Holiday Food Safety Tips

Whether it is holiday cookies, perogies, roast goose, latke or tamales, foods are an important ingredient of holiday celebrations. Teaching children to cook your family’s recipes can impart ethnic identity and culture, and offers a sense of accomplishment for young chefs. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers some tips to keep holiday feasting fun and healthy:

  • When preparing food for a holiday celebration, follow food safety guidelines. Bacteria are often present in raw foods. Fully cook meats and poultry, and thoroughly wash raw vegetables and fruits.
  • While you’re teaching your children family recipes, also teach them about good food safety. Wash your hands frequently, and make sure children do the same.
  • If you offer your helper a taste, be sure to wash the spoon before putting it back into the food.
  • Make sure that taste doesn’t include raw eggs or other ingredients that should be cooked before be eaten.
  • During preparations for a party, the refrigerator and freezer can become crowded with with sweets, roasts and other goodies, but don’t let these become breeding grounds for bacteria. Always keep raw foods and cooked foods separate, and use separate utensils when preparing them.
  • Always thaw meat in the refrigerator, never on the countertop.
  • Keep hot food and liquids away from the edges of counters and tables, where they can be easily knocked over by a young child’s exploring hands. Be sure that young children cannot access microwave ovens. Turn pot handles toward the side or back of the stove.
  • Foods that require refrigeration should never be left at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • After a holiday party, clean up immediately. A toddler could rise early and choke on leftover food or come in contact with alcohol or tobacco.

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.


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Goodreads Choice Awards 2018

This year, Goodreads readers cast more than 5 million votes in the only major book awards decided by readers. Here are some of the favorite titles for kids in the 10th Annual Goodreads Choice Awards.

Young Adult Fiction
Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction
Middle Grade & Children’s
Picture Books
Graphic Novels & Comics

10 Non-Tech Holiday Gift Ideas to Promote Kids’ Language & Learning

​​​Children of all ages are filling their holiday wish list with things like tablets, cell phones, wearables, headphones, and other tech-related gifts. But it’s important to find a balance and ensure that today’s connected kids ha​ve some quality off-line time, too. The holidays are a great time to get back to some of the basics in childhood play that foster communication and social interaction. Here are some ideas for a low-tech holiday gift list:

Traditional toys remain superior to electronic toys for children’s language development. For example, when toys talk, parents talk less—and subsequently, kids vocalize less. Blocks, dolls, musical instruments, cars, trains, shape-sorters, and other low-tech toys get kids—and parents—talking, singing, playing, and interacting. These all help build foundational communication skills.

Books always make excellent presents, and sharing the joy of reading is a lifelong gift.

  • ​For infants and toddlers: Books with textures inviting touch are ideal, as are colorful board and picture books.
  • For children learning how to read: Give books appropriate to their skill level to facilitate emerging literacy.
  • For older children: Find engaging chapter books and book series. Family members can take turns reading chapters aloud. This may be the start of a family book club.

​​Board, card, and conversation-based question games are great to enjoy and play as a family. They get everyone talking and laughing and build some great memories. There are games for all age ranges. And what better time of year than winter to begin family game nights for building conversation, connections—and fun!

Costumes and other dress-up accessories allow kids to use their imaginations and foster creativity. Children’s language skills expand as they make up dialogues, tell stories, sing, and take turns.

Building toys, blocks,​ and crafts make for some fun indoor activities to occupy kids on cold days. They also help hone fine motor skills for all ages. For young children, motor skills are closely linked to language development.

Outdoor toys such as balls, sleds, jump ropes, and yard games encourage running, jumping, sports and other active play. Physical activity and movement prime children for learning.

Puzzles — ranging from basic options for young children to complex types the whole family can attempt as a team—spur conversation while building analytical, problem-solving and other skills.

Cooking supplies work as fun gifts for children of almost any age. Involving young kids in making and trying new foods offers a wealth of opportunity for conversation and language-building, including likes and dislikes, tastes, textures, and more. For older kids, cooking together sets the scene for family bonding. Following recipes also helps improve reading and comprehension skills, planning, organization, sequencing, and following directions.

Crayons, colored pencils, coloring books and other writing supplies are a childhood staple, and they help children build fine-motor skills. Coloring also helps young children build their vocabulary and learn their color names.

​Tickets to child-friendly shows, sporting events, or other performances are great gifts, as they allow parents and children to enjoy special activities together. These outings promote family interaction, conversation, and bonding. In addition, memberships to local zoos, museums or aquariums make great gifts for entire families to enjoy!

Of course, technology gifts will likely remain on your child’s shopping lists year after year—the reality of growing up in today’s world. Parents can help their children balance their online and off-line lives. If you do give your child a technology-related gift, use it as an opportunity to lay out some ground rules and make a family media plan.


Copyright ©2016 American Academy of Pediatrics and American Speech-Language-Hearing Association/ASHA Leader. 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 stress, especially for children. 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.


Avoid a Food Allergy Scare on Halloween

Halloween is one of the trickiest days of the year for children with food allergies. Kids often haul home pounds of treats, and even small amounts of an ingredient they are allergic to can cause a potentially life-threatening reaction.

Here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to help ensure Halloween’s frights stay festive and don’t involve a medical emergency.

Reading before Eating

  • Always read the ingredient label on any treat your child receives. Many popular Halloween candies contain some of the most common allergens, such as peanuts or tree nuts, milk, egg, soy or wheat.
  • If the ingredients aren’t listed, arrange for a treat “exchange” with classmates or friends. Or, bag up the goodies your child can’t eat because of an allergy and leave them with a note asking the “Treat Fairy” to swap them for a prize.
  • Be aware that even if they are not listed on the ingredient label, candies (both chocolate and non-chocolate) are at high risk of containing trace amounts of common allergy triggers, because factories often produce many different products. Also, “fun size” or miniature candies may have different ingredients or be made on different equipment than the regular size candies, meaning that brands your child previously ate without problems could cause a reaction.
  • Teach your child to politely turn down home-baked items such as cupcakes and brownies, and never to taste or share another child’s food.

Food-Free Fun

  • Offer non-edible goodies to trick-or-treaters and classmates. Food Allergy Research &Education’s Teal Pumpkin Project, which promotes safe trick-or-treating options for food-allergic children, suggests items such as glow sticks, spider rings, vampire fangs, pencils, bubbles, bouncy balls, finger puppets, whistles, bookmarks, stickers and stencils. Consider supplying some to neighbors whose homes your child will visit.
  • Plan alternatives to trick-or-treating, such as slumber parties or get-togethers to watch age-appropriate creepy movies.
  • Center parties around festive activities such as costume parades, pumpkin decorating contests, Halloween themed games, crafts and scavenger hunts or spooky storybooks.

Don’t Keep Others in the Dark

  • Inform teachers and other adults with your child about the food allergy and how to react to an emergency.
  • Don’t let your child trick-or-treat alone, and make sure they have an epinephrine auto-injector with them. Anyone with a cell phone should fully charge it before heading out.
  • Explain symptoms of anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction, such as shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, swelling of lips or tongue and dizziness.
  • Even if epinephrine is administered right away and anaphylaxis symptoms seem to stop, the child treated always should be taken to the emergency room.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2015). 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.​​

Notable Children’s Books, Just in Time for the Holidays

Every year, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) identifies the best in children’s books. The list is generated based on certain criteria—worthy of note or notice, important, distinguished, outstanding—and includes “books of especially commendable quality, books that exhibit venturesome creativity, and books of fiction, information, poetry and pictures for all age levels (birth through age 14) that reflect and encourage children’s interests in exemplary ways,” according to the ALSC website. Additionally, Newbery, Caldecott, Belpré, Sibert, Geisel, and Batchelder Award and Honor books automatically are added to the Notable Children’s Books list.

Just in time for your gift-giving consideration, here is a list of the 2017 Notable Children’s Books. For more information about these book, click here.


YOUNGER READERS
Preschool-grade 2 (age 7), including easy-to-read books

Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer, Diane Stanley
Ada Twist, Scientist, Andrea Beaty
Before Morning, Joyce Sidman
Best Frints in the Whole Universe, Antoinette Portis
Counting, Fleur Star
Coyote Moon, Maria Gianferrari
Fabulous Frogs, Martin Jenkins
Go, Otto, Go! , David Milgrim
Good Night Owl,
Greg Pizzoli
The Great Pet Escape,
Victoria Jamieson
Horrible Bear!
Ame Dyckman
A Hungry Lion; or, A Dwindling Assortment of Animals,
Lucy Ruth Cummins
The Infamous Ratsos,
Kara LaReau
Leave Me Alone!
Vera Brosgol
The Night Gardener,
Terry Fan
Old Dog Baby Baby,
Julie Fogliano
Oops, Pounce, Quick, Run! An Alphabet Caper,
Mike Twohy
Over the Ocean,
Taro Gomi
A Piece of Home,
Jeri Watts
Puddle,
Hyewon Yum
Rudas: Niño’s Horrendous Hermanitas,
Yuyi Morales
School’s First Day of School,
Adam Rex
Thunder Boy Jr,
Sherman Alexie
We Found a Hat,
Jon Klassen
Weekends with Max and His Dad,
Linda Urban
When Andy Met Sandy,
Tomie dePaola and Jim Lewis
Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln?
Kate DiCamillo


MIDDLE READERS
Grades 3-5, ages 8-10

The Best Man, Richard Peck
Dory Fantasmagory: Dory Dory Black Sheep, Abby Hanlon
Full of Beans, Jennifer L. Holm
Frank and Lucky Get Schooled, Lynne Rae Perkins
The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Kelly Barnhill
I Am Not a Number, Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer
I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark, Debbie Levy
Juana & Lucas, Juana Medina
Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, John David Anderson
Pax, Sara Pennypacker
A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day, Andrea Davis Pinkney
Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis, Jabari Asim
The Princess and the Warrior, Duncan Tonatiuh
Raymie Nightingale, Kate DiCamillo
The Secret Keepers, Trenton Lee Stewart.
The Sound of Silence, Katrina Goldsaito
Steamboat School, Deborah Hopkinson
Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World about Kindness, Donna Janell Bowman
The Storyteller, Evan Turk
The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk, Jan Thornhill
A Voyage in the Clouds: The (Mostly) True Story of the First International Flight by Balloon in 1785, Matthew Olshan
Wet Cement, Bob Raczka
When Mischief Came to Town, Katrina Nannestad
When the Sea Turned to Silver, Grace Lin
The Wild Robot, Peter Brown


OLDER READERS
Grades 6-8, ages 11-14

As Brave As You, Jason Reynolds
The Ballad of a Broken Nose, Arne Svingen. Tr, Kari Dickson
The Bitter Side of Sweet, Tara Sullivan. Putnam.
Blood Brother: Jonathan Daniels and His Sacrifice for Civil Rights, Rich Wallace and Sandra Neil Wallace
Booked, Kwame Alexander
Brown v. Board of Education: A Fight for Simple Justice, Susan Goldman Rubin
Cloud and Wallfish, Anne Nesbet
Cry, Heart, but Never Break, Glenn Ringtved
Garvey’s Choice, Nikki Grimes
Ghost, Jason Reynolds
In the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five Black Lives, Kenneth C. Davis
The Inquisitor’s Tale; or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog, Adam Gidwitz
The Lie Tree, Frances Hardinge
Lowriders to the Center of the Earth, Cathy Camper
March: Book Three, John Lewis and Andrew Aydin
The Only Road, Alexandra Diaz
Presenting Buffalo Bill: The Man Who Invented the Wild West, Candace Fleming
Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story, Caren Stelson
Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune, Pamela S. Turner
To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party, Skila Brown
Uprooted: The Japanese American Experience during World War II, Albert Marrin
We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler, Russell Freedman
What Elephants Know, Eric Dinerstein
Wolf Hollow, Lauren Wolk
The Wolf’s Boy, Susan Williams Beckhorn
You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen, Carole Boston Weatherford


ALL AGES
Has appeal and interest for children in all of the above age ranges

Animals by the Numbers: A Book of Infographics, Steve Jenkins
As Time Went By, Jose Sanabria
Daniel Finds a Poem, Micha Archer
Du Iz Tak? Carson Ellis
Esquivel! Space-Age Sound Artist,
Susan Wood
Freedom in Congo Square,
Carole Boston Weatherford
Freedom over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan,
Ashley Bryan
Giant Squid,
Candace Fleming
Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph,
Roxane Orgill
The Journey,
Francesca Sanna
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood,
F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell
¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z! / Olinguito, from A to Z! Descubriendo el bosque nublado / Unveiling the Cloud Forest,
Lulu Delacre
Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat,
Javaka Steptoe
Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White,
Melissa Sweet
Somos como las nubes / We Are Like the Clouds,
Jorge Argueta
They All Saw a Cat,
Brendan Wenzel
The Water Princess,
Susan Verde and Georgie Badiel
When Green Becomes Tomatoes,
Julie Fogliano

10 Non-Tech Holiday Gift Ideas to Promote Kids’ Language & Learning

​​Children of all ages are filling their holiday wish list with things like tablets, cell phones, wearables, headphones, and other tech-related gifts. But it’s important to find a balance and ensure that today’s connected kids ha​ve some quality off-line time, too. The holidays are a great time to get back to some of the basics in childhood play that foster communication and social interaction.

Ideas for a Low-Tech Holiday Gift List:

Traditional toys remain superior to electronic toys for children’s language development. For example, when toys talk, parents talk less—and subsequently, kids vocalize less. Blocks, dolls, musical instruments, cars, trains, shape-sorters, and other low-tech toys get kids—and parents—talking, singing, playing, and interacting. These all help build foundational communication skills.

Books always make excellent presents, and sharing the joy of reading is a lifelong gift.

  • ​For infants and toddlers: Books with textures inviting touch are ideal, as are colorful board and picture books.
  • For children learning how to read: Give books appropriate to their skill level to facilitate emerging literacy.
  • For older children: Find engaging chapter books and book series. Family members can take turns reading chapters aloud. This may be the start of a family book club.

​​Board, card, and conversation-based question games are great to enjoy and play as a family. They get everyone talking and laughing and build some great memories. There are games for all age ranges. And what better time of year than winter to begin family game nights for building conversation, connections—and fun!

Costumes and other dress-up accessories allow kids to use their imaginations and foster creativity. Children’s language skills expand as they make up dialogues, tell stories, sing, and take turns.

Building toys, blocks,​ and crafts make for some fun indoor activities to occupy kids on cold days. They also help hone fine motor skills for all ages. For young children, motor skills are closely linked to language development.

Outdoor toys such as balls, sleds, jump ropes, and yard games encourage running, jumping, sports and other active play. Physical activity and movement prime children for learning.

Puzzles—ranging from basic options for young children to complex types the whole family can attempt as a team—spur conversation while building analytical, problem-solving and other skills.

Cooking supplies work as fun gifts for children of almost any age. Involving young kids in making and trying new foods offers a wealth of opportunity for conversation and language-building, including likes and dislikes, tastes, textures, and more. For older kids, cooking together sets the scene for family bonding. Following recipes also helps improve reading and comprehension skills, planning, organization, sequencing, and following directions.

Crayons, colored pencils, coloring books and other writing supplies are a childhood staple, and they help children build fine-motor skills. Coloring also helps young children build their vocabulary and learn their color names.

​Tickets to child-friendly shows, sporting events, or other performances are great gifts, as they allow parents and children to enjoy special activities together. These outings promote family interaction, conversation, and bonding. In addition, memberships to local zoos, museums or aquariums make great gifts for entire families to enjoy!

Of course, technology gifts will likely remain on your child’s shopping lists year after year—the reality of growing up in today’s world. Parents can help their children balance their online and off-line lives. If you do give your child a technology-related gift, use it as an opportunity to lay out some ground rules and make a family media plan.


Source: Copyright © 2016 American Academy of Pediatrics and American Speech-Language-Hearing Association/ASHA Leader. 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

Here are some mental health tips for the holiday season:

  • 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 y​ourself both mentally and physically. Children and adolescents are affected by the emotional well-being of their parent or 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.
  • Kids still need to brush their teeth twice a day!
  • Don’t feel pressured to “over-spend on gifts.” Consider making one or two gifts. Help your child make a gift for his or her other parent, grandparents, 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.


From HealthyChildren.org