Cell Phones: What’s the Right Age to Start?

There really is no “right” age to allow our kids to dip a toe into the digital pond, but if we pay attention to the issues, we’ll be able to decide what makes sense for our kids without getting in the way of a process that will occur whether we like it or not.

At the same time, there is no rush. We can keep the pace reasonable and developmentally appropriate and allow our kids to use technologies that make sense without granting them access to technologies that don’t make sense for their age.
Cell Phones for Safety

For example, cell phone use seems to be trickling to younger ages. Studies and reports show that middle school is the time that adoption for cell phones and technology really takes off. Before then, kids who have cell phones don’t use them as expected. Why do they have them? Families I know who give their elementary school kids cell phones do so mostly for safety issues.

  • Medical: Some children have emergency issues for which every second counts. For these kids, having access to a cell phone matters because landlines are not as easy to find as when we were kids, even in afterschool programs (although the adults supervising those programs usually carry cell phones, or should). Some families whose children have medical issues feel more secure knowing their child can reach them if symptoms start to flare. Assuming these kids are supervised, this may not be needed but does give families peace of mind.
  • Emergencies: With both parents often working out of the home, many feel more secure if kids of all ages have a way to reach them and vice versa. This is an issue every family needs to sort out independently, but if elementary schoolkids are supervised after school, a personal cell phone for the child may not be needed.

The New Normal Kids “Need”
For better or worse, we do have a new norm being established today which studies and reports are confirming. YouthBeat: The Syndicated Report by C&R Research reports on the use of digital devices by today’s kids and teens, YouthBeat confirms that today’s kids are starting very young, as young as first grade, and gravitate to:

  • TV
  • DVD
  • Video
  • Computer
  • Cameras
  • Music
  • Cell phones

Use increases with age and parents provide the majority of purchasing power.

Despite views that kids “need” cell phones when they are young, cell phones use among younger kids is markedly lower than tweens and teens—22% of kids reported using cell phones, compared with 60% of tweens and 84% of teens. The percentages of use were not as wide for other digital technologies.

The Social Role of the Cell Phone
The reasons for this are likely developmental. Cell phones play a huge social role that doesn’t become interesting in a child’s life until the tween and teen years. Before that, show watching and gaming are the prominent interests and are reflected in the digital activities the younger kids gravitate toward.

Author: Gwenn Schurgin O’Keeffe, MD, FAAP. Source: CyberSafe: Protecting and Empowering Kids in the Digital World of Texting, Gaming, and Social Media (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.

It’s Not Too Early to Book Those Physicals!


It’s never too early to start thinking about vaccines and physicals for the new school year, or for summer camp!

Please remember to call and book your appointments early to get the most convenient time for your busy schedules. Also please remember, our staff makes it a priority to complete your requests for forms as quickly as possible. We do advise all of our patients that we request a minimum of 3-7 business days to complete those forms.

If your child is planning on playing any summer/fall sports, attending any camps, and for those who are entering college, please plan accordingly so that we can get your form completed and returned to you before your deadlines.

In the event, that we are asked to expedite a form (i.e. 24-hour turn around), please be aware that there will be a $10 fee charged. Please help us to provide you with the best service possible by getting your forms to us in a timely manner.

Call us now! 203 239-4627

Asthma Fables and Facts

Although our knowledge of asthma is expanding year by year, many people still cling to outdated beliefs about the disease. Following are some that are often repeated:

Fable: Asthma comes and goes.

FACT: Asthma is often an inflammatory condition that is always in the airways, even when the person is not having trouble breathing. Exposure to an asthma trigger can worsen symptoms, but the underlying condition never goes away, although it can be controlled with medications and environmental control measures.

Fable: Asthma is an emotional disorder; it’s “all in the mind.”

FACT: Asthma is a lung disease; it affects the airways, not the brain. It’s true that symptoms may get worse when a person is under emotional stress, but this is probably more marked in adults and less so in children. Changes in the airways in asthma occur through physiological mechanisms, not emotional ones.

Fable: People with asthma should use medications only when they have attacks; otherwise, the medications lose their effect.

FACT: Regularly using medications is the only way to calm the underlying airway inflammation and prevent asthma flare-ups. Used at the correct dosage, daily medications do not lose their effect or cause uncomfortable side effects. Effective antiasthma medications include inhaled beta-agonists such as albuterol to stop attacks, and inhaled steroids, long-acting beta-agonists, and leukotriene modifiers to prevent attacks from occurring at all.

Fable: Asthma is just an annoying condition, not a real disease.

FACT: Asthma can kill when people do not get treatment to control the underlying condition and stop severe attacks. If everybody who needed medications used the proper ones to control symptoms and prevent flare-ups, hospitalizations and deaths from asthma would be greatly reduced.

Fable: Children grow out of asthma.

Fact: Most people who have asthma are born with a tendency to the condition and keep it for life. It is true many children get much better with age, and their asthma appears to go away completely. However, many have it return in adulthood. Other children who still have asthma are less likely to lose their asthma as they go in to their adult years.

Fable: Asthma clears up when you move to a warm, dry climate.

FACT: If the proper environmental measures are taken and medications are regularly used, people with asthma can live comfortably in any climate they prefer. Very rarely do people ever have to move out of a city or other area because of their asthma.

Source: Guide to Your Child’s Allergies and Asthma (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.

Allergy Causes in Children: What Parents Can Do

What Causes Allergies?​

Children get allergies from coming into contact with allergens. Allergens can be inhaled, eaten, or injected (from stings or medicine) or they can come into contact with the skin.

Some of the more common allergens are:

  • Pollens from trees, grasses, and weeds
  • Molds, both indoor and outdoor
  • Dust mites that live in bedding, carpeting, and other items that hold moisture
  • Animal dander from furred animals such as cats, dogs, horses, and rabbits
  • Some foods and medicines
  • Venom from insect stings

Allergies tend to run in families. If a parent has an allergy, there is a higher chance that his or her child also will have allergies. This risk increases if both parents are allergic.

How Can I Help My Child?

Identifying and avoiding the things your child is allergic to is best. If your child has an allergic condition, try the following:

  • Keep windows closed during the pollen season, especially on dry, windy days when pollen counts are highest.
  • Keep the house clean and dry to reduce mold and dust mites.
  • Avoid having pets and indoor plants.
  • Avoid those things that you know cause allergic reactions in your child.
  • Prevent anyone from smoking anywhere near your child, especially in your home and car.
  • See your pediatrician for safe and effective medicine that can be used to help alleviate or prevent allergy symptoms.

Source: Allergies in Children (Copyright ? 1997 American Academy of Pediatrics, Updated 4/2013). 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.

Obesity: What Activity Should Your Child Choose?

There are a lot of avenues for your overweight child to pursue in the quest to become more active. From Little League baseball to ballet lessons, shooting a basketball to bicycling, he has many options to choose from. And that’s the key — your child, not you, should be the person making the choice. If he’s going to stay active long term, he needs to select something that he likes and will keep doing.

That’s why it’s important for parents not to micromanage their children’s physical activities. Some children enjoy organized activity, while others prefer outdoor free play for which they’re left to their own devices on how they’ll be active. Free play can be a powerful form of exercise, contributing to the development of motor skills and serving as a great outlet for your youngster’s energy. As a society, we’re overlooking the value of this kind of active play, even though the AAP recommends only free play, rather than team sports, up to the age of 6 years. Whether you live in a city or rural area, find a park, playground, or other outdoor area where your young child can do his own thing.

Yes, you can make sure that some balls and other play equipment are available whenever your child goes outside, but let him decide exactly what he wants to do. Parents often find it helpful to give their children 3 or 4 activity options from which to choose, or they might ask their youngsters what choices they’d like available. Pose a question like this to your child: “If you weren’t watching TV, what could you be doing instead?” Don’t be surprised if you initially get a blank stare from him, so give him some concrete alternatives: “Could you jump rope? Or play tennis? Or go in-line skating? Or go for a brisk walk?”

You might instead say, “Here are 3 activities you could do this afternoon. You could swim, go bowling with your brother, or go for a walk. Which one would you like to do?”

On the other hand, if you insist that your child participate in an activity that he finds boring or grueling—“Jimmy, it’s time to walk on the treadmill!”—he’ll probably lose interest quickly and end up in front of the TV. If you provide him the opportunity to participate in an activity that he enjoys, he’s likely to keep doing it.

Now, what about organized sports like soccer teams and Little League? They’re fine for children aged 6 years and older who want to join in, but it’s important to have realistic expectations. Your aim should be for your child to be physically active and enjoy the experience, not necessarily excel as the best player on the team. You shouldn’t be trying to create an elite athlete, and if he chooses to move from one sport to another rather than concentrating only on one, that’s fine. For example, if he shows an interest in a basketball league, great—but if he also wants to learn how to ski when winter comes around, all the better. Let him explore different activities.

He’ll develop a wide variety of physical skills and more importantly, he’ll keep moving. Here are some other guidelines to keep in mind when selecting activities with your child.

  • Anything that involves movement qualifies as physical activity.
  • It doesn’t have to push your child to the point of collapse to
    contribute to his efforts at weight management.
  • When you present your child with alternatives or options for activities, create the boundaries of acceptable choices.
  • Perhaps joining the hockey team is too expensive for your family budget—not only the sign-up fee, but the cost of the skates and other equipment. There are plenty of other choices that should be within your family’s financial means.
  • While many youngsters love being active with other kids, some overweight children feel self-conscious or embarrassed about participating in group sports. They may be more inclined to choose an activity that they can do on their own. Another approach is to plan physical activities for your youngster together with a special friend or sibling with whom he feels comfortable.
  • Above all, the activity must be fun, and your child should be successful at it.

What’s Right for Your Child?

There’s no scarcity of activities that you can make available to your child, and all kids can find some form of exercise that they enjoy, even if they tell you that they’d much rather sit and snack on the couch. You’ll find many of these options mentioned in several places. You can also use your imagination to add to the list of appropriate choices for your own child, perhaps including hiking, gardening, snorkeling, gymnastics, stair climbing, or playing with a hula hoop. You can get him a dog if he agrees to walk his new pet twice a day. You could also buy him a basketball and put up a hoop in your driveway.

Remember, even household chores—from raking leaves to vacuuming the house to washing the car—qualify as physical activity as long as they keep your child moving.

Don’t overlook youth activities sponsored by your community’s parks and recreation department, which might include volleyball, badminton, or table tennis. Encourage your youngster to stay active by giving him gifts like riding lessons. At his birthday parties, incorporate some physical activity, perhaps by taking his friends and him to play miniature golf or planning a trip to the batting cages to swing at baseballs.

Also, keep in mind that there are lifetime sports that he can develop a love for and continue doing throughout his lifetime. If you can get your child interested in an activity like this when he’s young, exercise and fitness are more likely to become a habit that lasts for many decades. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that physical education programs in schools emphasize lifetime sports (as well as activities that are not just for the best athletes). These lifetime sports include

  • Swimming
  • Racquetball
  • Skating—In-line and ice
  • Golf
  • Bowling
  • Bicycling
  • Tennis
  • Skiing
  • Jogging
  • Walking
  • Martial arts

No matter what activity your child chooses, whether it burns lots of body fat or just a little, it is better than just sitting. That’s the message to communicate to a child who wants to lose weight.

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

Feed Families, Not Landfills

Each year, Americans across the country are making difficult choices. Many people are forced to choose between buying food or buying medicine; parents are forced to go hungry so their children don’t, and working families are forced to choose between paying their utilities or putting food on the table.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, around 14 percent of American households do not get enough food to live active, healthy lifestyles. What makes this sad fact even harder to digest is this- a significant portion of the food tossed into our nations’ landfills is wholesome, edible food. By redirecting that unspoiled food from the landfill to our neighbors in need, an organization can support its local community; reduce its environmental impact, and save money.

What Kind of Food Can Be Donated?

Non-perishable and unspoiled perishable food can be donated to local food banks, soup kitchens, pantries, and shelters. Typical food bank donors include large manufacturers, supermarket chains, wholesalers, farmers, food brokers, and organized community food drives. Perishable and prepared foods are typically collected from restaurants, caterers, corporate dining rooms, hotels, and other food establishments for prompt distribution to hungry people in their communities. Donated food includes leftovers from events and surplus food inventory.

Check with your local food bank or food rescue operation (soup kitchen, shelter, etc.) to find out what items they will accept. Your local food bank will often pick up the donations free of charge, reducing warehouse storage and disposal costs.

Where Can I Donate Food?

Food pantries, food banks, and food rescue programs are available across the country to collect food and redistribute it to those in need. Local and national programs frequently offer free pick-up and/or reusable containers to donors

Food banks are community-based, professional organizations that collect food from a variety of sources and save the food in warehouses. The food bank then distributes the food to hungry families and individuals through a variety of emergency food assistance agencies, such as soup kitchens, youth or senior centers, shelters and pantries. Most food banks tend to collect less perishable foods such as canned goods because they can be stored for a longer time.

Food rescue programs take excess perishable and prepared food and distribute it to agencies and charities that serve hungry people such as soup kitchens, youth or senior centers, shelters and pantries. Many of these agencies visit the food bank each week to select fresh produce and packaged products for their meal programs or food pantries. Many also take direct donations from stores, restaurants, cafeterias, and individuals with surplus food to share.

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (http://www.epa.gov/foodrecovery/fd-donate.htm). 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.

Poison Prevention

Post the Poison Help number 1-800-222-1222 on the emergency list next to every phone in your home and in your cell phone.

A toddler or preschooler who vomits may have eaten or drunk something poisonous. If you suspect poisoning because of a telltale odor, unexplained stains on clothing, burns or stains around the mouth, or an open or empty container of a toxic substance, call Poison Help immediately.

More than a million American children younger than 6 years suffer poisoning every year. Household cleaners, personal care products, and over-the-counter medications lead the list of poisons.

Healthy preschoolers are mobile and curious enough to sample even foul-tasting substances. To complicate matters, many caustic products such as drain cleaners, which can cause devastating injuries, have no taste. A child may ingest a large amount before he stops because of a burning sensation. Vitamin pills, iron and other mineral supplements, and aspirin, while generally safe for adults, can cause serious or even life-threatening reactions in a child’s small body.

  • Store drugs and medications in a medicine cabinet that is locked or out of reach. Do not keep toothpaste, soap, or shampoo in the same cabinet. If you carry a purse, keep potential poisons out of your purse and keep your child away from other people’s purses.
  • Buy and keep medications in their own containers with child safety caps. Put the cap on completely after each use. Child resistant does not mean childproof, only that it takes longer for your child to get into it. Being alert and aware is extremely important.
  • Do not take medicine in front of small children; they may try to imitate you later. Never tell a child that a medicine is candy.
  • Store hazardous products in locked cabinets that are out of your child’s reach. Do not keep detergents and other cleaning products under the kitchen or bathroom sink, unless they are in a cabinet with a safety latch that locks every time you close the cabinet.
  • Never put poisonous or toxic products in containers that were once used for food, especially empty drink bottles, cans, or cups.
  • Empty and rinse all glasses immediately after gatherings where alcohol is served. Keep alcohol in a locked cabinet.

Source: Nutrition: What Every Parent Needs to Know (Copyright © American Academy of Pediatrics 2011). 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.

April is National Poetry Month!

National Poetry Month, celebrated every April, is a perfect time to teach your children about poetry! Here are “30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month” from the Academy of American Poets:

Differences in Organic, Natural & Health Foods

Although these terms are often used interchangeably, they have different meanings.

  • Organic foods are grown without artificial pesticides, fertilizers, or herbicides. Organic meat, eggs, and dairy products are obtained from animals that are fed natural feed and not given hormones or antibiotics.
  • Natural foods are free of synthetic or artificial ingredients or additives.
  • “Health foods” is a general term that may be applied to natural or organic foods, or to regular foods that have undergone less processing than usual, such as stone-ground whole-grain flours.

Although some have claimed that organic foods have a higher concentration of some nutrients, the evidence is mixed. The nutritional content of foods also varies greatly according to when the food was harvested and how it has been stored or processed. Unless they are fresher, there is also no evidence that organic, natural, or health foods taste better than regular foods. However, taste is determined by plant genetics, rather than by whether the crop is organically or conventionally grown. Harvesting and handling also affect taste. A peach or tomato that is picked when it is too green will never develop the full taste of fruit that is allowed to ripen on the tree or the vine.

Although the type of fertilizer may not affect taste or nutrition, it does have an effect on the environment. Many people prefer to pay premium prices for organic foods because their production does not cause environmental damage from pesticides and herbicides, and composted fertilizers help restore soil and are not as damaging to the environment as artificial fertilizers. However, simply stating “organic” does not protect the food from being contaminated from field to market.

Source: Nutrition: What Every Parent Needs to Know (Copyright © American Academy of Pediatrics 2011). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Choosing Healthy Snacks for Kids

Fresh Fruits And Berries On White Background

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

Use snack times as a way to increase fruits and vegetable intake.
Most kids do not eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. Snack times offer a great opportunity to increase access and exposure to these nutrient-dense foods. Consider pairing them up with dairy products or dairy substitutes (such as grapes and cheese) lean proteins (such as celery and peanut butter), or whole-grain cereals and bread (such as banana sandwich on whole grain bread).

Keep a range of healthy foods handy at home. It is much easier to make easy, healthy snacks when you keep a few key items stocked at home. Ideas include different types of raw vegetables and fruit, yogurt dip, hummus, and cheese sticks.

Avoid processed foods and added sugars. Processed foods (made in a factory and sold in bags and boxes) do not have many nutrients and often have a lot of added sugar and salt. In addition, children may become hungry faster after eating processed foods. See Snacks & Sugary Foods in School: AAP Policy Explained for more information.

Teach your children to eat a rainbow of colors.
Arrange your children’s foods to show the beauty of fresh, brightly colored foods. Talk about the farms where food comes from and the farmers who help grow it.

Snack Ideas for Families

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