Shopping cart safety

While shopping at the grocery store, it’s quite common to see young children climbing on and standing up in shopping carts. Although safety belts have been available for many years on most shopping carts, there are still an estimated 21,400 children under the Walker -shoppingcartcoverage of five who are treated in U.S. emergency rooms every year because of injuries sustained from shopping carts. Most of these injuries are head injuries due to falls from not being properly restrained in the child seat of the cart.

Most children love to climb and do not enjoy sitting still for long periods of time. So parents face the challenge of keeping their kids restrained and entertained while shopping and may be tempted to let them climb on the cart or ride in the basket just to keep them happy. Or a child may get out of the restraint belt while mom or dad is preoccupied with shopping. So how do you keep your little one safe while you shop?

Here are some tips to help.

Always use the seat belt/safety strap

Children who are properly restrained in the child seat of a shopping cart are much less likely to fall out of the cart so make it a rule that if your child is in the cart, the strap has to be fastened securely. This should be non-negotiable with your child, just as seat belts and car seats in the car are a non-negotiable rule when riding in the car. Infants who are not able to sit up without assistance should not sit in a shopping cart seat unless it has a built-in infant seat with a harness restraint system. Never allow kids to climb on the cart or ride in the basket. Older children should not push the cart if younger children are riding in it and should not be allowed to ride on the outside of the cart, as this could cause the cart to tip over.

Use a shopping cart cover

Shopping cart covers help protect kids in two ways. First, they cover the seat and bar of the shopping cart which protects from germs and provides some padding, making the ride more comfortable. Secondly, some covers provide extra safety straps to provide a more secure ride. There are numerous covers available in a wide variety of styles and designs so you may want to shop around to find the best one for your child’s needs. Some even have toys attached to the cover to provide entertainment during the trip through the grocery store. When shopping for a cart cover, make sure it is large enough to fit over the child seat and bar of the shopping carts you most often use and check whether or not it has its own straps to restrain the child or if you have to use the straps on the cart.

Engage your child in the shopping experience

If your child feels included while shopping, he may be more likely to sit safely in the cart through the whole trip. Talk with him about the choices of products you are buying. Let him help pick out some of the items, if he’s old enough and talk about what you will use the items for at home. If your child is old enough, let her help you read the grocery list and check off items as they are put in the cart. Or she can hold a calculator and add up the cost of your purchases. Even toddlers can be involved by using a list with pictures instead of words or using a cheap calculator and let them pretend to add up purchases. Keeping your child involved and entertained can not only make your shopping trip safer, but also more enjoyable for you both.

Use these tips to protect your child from shopping cart falls and injuries every time you shop!

Swimming Pool Safety

I was born and raised in Hawaii where I grew up surfing and swimming on both racing and synchronized swimming teams. I later became a lifeguard and swim instructor and even swam with dolphins and whales in the open ocean. Yet, it wasn’t until I moved to Arizona that I heard of more drownings than I had ever heard about prior to arriving here 3 years ago.

Sandoz-poolsafety2-smallerI was puzzled as to why until I realized that many of the people here simply don’t understand that there is no such thing as a ‘water-safe’ child and that no child, even one who can swim, can ever be near a swimming pool unless an adult is free to watch that child every single moment, just as a life-guard is trained to do. This is the only way a child can be safe, since drowning happens in a few short minutes. Thus, anyone who has a pool would be wise to take this black and white approach to water-safety and to never even think of cutting corners on this rule.

Create Accountable, Masterful Children: The Family Coach Method

The transition from toddler to child is a leap for both of you. As a parent during this time, you go from meeting all your toddler’s needs to helping your 3- to 8-year-old learn to be independent and responsible for herself. This is one of those profound developmental processes that no one really teaches parents how to navigate. But that’s why we’re here now, to help you and your child develop the skills you’ll both need to enter this amazing and challenging time in your lives.

Small Steps to Wider Horizons

When we speak of responsibility and independence, we’re really talking about mastery and kidschoreslink2accountability. In other words, your child is free to wander a little farther away from you at the park because he has mastered the skills required to do that: he stays within bounds, he engages with other children respectfully, and he knows basic concepts of safety. And he has shown you that you can rely on him to do these things as you expect – this is the accountability part. The level of independence you give him, and the accountability you expect in return, will grow as your child grows. Children as young as 3 are beginning to feel their own way in the world, with your guidance.

But how do you introduce independence and responsibility to your children? First, you provide your child with the opportunity to exhibit a greater level of skill than he has previously. You might make the conscious choice to stop picking up your son’s underwear from the bathroom floor and expect him by age 3 or 3 ½ to put them in the laundry basket himself (He’ll feel like such a big boy!). You start to break down specific tasks and activities of daily living and allow your child to do more for himself. These are often small tasks for an adult, but brand new and perhaps even exciting to a child.

As you clean your home or fold the laundry, begin identifying small tasks that you can give your child so that he can feel more sense of accomplishment and mastery. Don’t worry too much if she gets it wrong at first – he will master his new skill quickly.

If you haven’t already noticed, your 3-year-old is capable of several chores around the house. She can pull up the covers on her bed, pick up toys and put them in the toy bins, take her laundry to the laundry room, pour water for the family dog, wipe up his messes with a paper towel and even help you dust. Watch the transformation from toddler to skillful 3-year-old as your child proudly helps you and herself.

Example: When your 3-year-old asks for milk, you say, “Let’s look on your shelf in the ‘fridge. Do you see it there?” Voilá! Before your child, right at eye level, is his cup of milk, pre-made (of course you were ready for the request!). “You can take it and drink it.” In this simple scenario, your child now experiences pride at being able to do this on his own for the first time.

By the time a child is 5, he is ready to hear, “You are really growing up. You want to do many things like play at the park, ride your bike on your own, and stay up later. You may be ready to do those things, but with independence comes responsibility.” These are big concepts for a child, but ones which they are primed for and often quite ready to understand. It happens with small steps.

Your 8-year-old has better dexterity, is taller and can think through tasks better than a 3-year-old. He can help you fold laundry and put it away in open drawers. He can set the table, clear the table and he may even love vacuuming. Your job is providing the opportunity to complete these tasks, but his experience will develop solid skills for a lifetime. As always, don’t expect perfection and give credit for a thoughtful effort.

* TIP: If you want to suggest improvement, frame it in the language of success: “You did a great job folding those shirts! Would you like to see a little trick for making it even easier?”

Independence and responsibility go hand in hand

With the independence of sleeping in a “big girl” bed comes the responsibility of making the bed each morning. With the independence of taking the school bus comes the responsibility of placing homework, lunch and permission slips in the backpack, then leaving it in “ready-to-go” position at the back door. With the independence of watching television one hour a day comes the responsibility of making sure homework is completed before the television is turned on. See how this goes?

When you tie independence to responsibility early in life, good habits that foster responsible independence become the norm.

Teaching your children this relationship early will lead to children who place their clothing in the hamper and not on the floor, teens who clean up their fast food when they return the car, and college students who always finish their studies before going out at night with their friends. As in adulthood, independence and freedom must co-exist with responsibility.

Demonstrate this now and your children will understand it forever. Responsibility may not be the message they’re getting from the popular culture around them, but it’s the message they’re now getting from their family culture…and you’re taking the proactive measures to establish your family culture strongly in your children’s minds and hearts. Is it worth the effort? You bet it is!


The Family Coach Definition: Task Demand

(n.) A task demand is a set of expectations that require a certain level of skill to complete. The task demand is what is required of you to complete an action. The skill is what is needed to meet the requirement. Examples of task demands would be: 1) being required to wait to walk out the door, when you are really excited and your parent tells you, “Wait until I say you may go outside.” 2) being required to put your hands in your pockets before you get near a brand new baby. 3) needing to hold a pencil correctly in order to write your name. 4) needing to shift one’s attention from the television to the parent, when the parent says, “Turn off the TV.”


*note: this post is an excerpt from Dr Kenney’s upcoming book “The Family Coach Method” scheduled for release September 15, 2009 . The Family Coach Method is ‘rug-level,’ friendly and centered on the concept of families as a winning team – with dozens of age-appropriate sample conversations and problem solving scenarios to guide a family to the desired place of mutual respect, shared values and strengths. The goal is to help children to develop the life skills, judgment and independence that can help them navigate the challenges of an increasingly complex world. The Family Coach Method is also being taught as an Educational Series where parents can join with other moms and dads in live calls with Dr Kenney.

Becky N. | Statesboro, GA; Mon., Sep. 7, 2009

Our children are the future of tommorrow and need all the support they can get in all areas of life.

Kids- They’re Not Just Small Adults

I think all healthcare providers are taught that kids are not just small adults. This is Not Just Small Adultstrue in so many ways. Diminished immunity and protection from disease is just one example but is a very real concern. Infants have so little blood circulating in their tiny bodies that even a seemingly insignificant amount of bleeding may be life-threatening. Most adults who suffer a cardiac arrest are responding to a cardiac event. When a child suffers cardiac arrest the underlying cause is usually respiratory in nature. They can’t take our medicine- or at least not in our doses and adult automotive seating is never appropriate.

As important as it is for healthcare workers to understand this – it is more important for the rest of us to understand. There is a certain logic to using or modifying things that we use everyday to use for infants and kids. There are so many reasons why this is a hazardous practice. It took us years – in some cases generations to know what we know. Consider…

Young kids are not born knowing to look both ways before they cross the road or that pools or even bathtubs are dangerous places. The nine months spent in utero is just the first part of the development process. Bones continue to grow and proportions change- speech develops. Until speech develops, kids can’t tell us they hurt, can’t tell us they feel warm and don’t understand a lot of what we say. They need us to understand, to look out for them. To speak for them when they are unable. To understand what they don’t know.

They respond to you in ways no adult ever will. How you eat, if you smoke or get drunk- if you bully or if you enrich your life through reading. Your involvement in the life of kids – here and at home, in school or in the car makes more difference than you know. PS being a parent is not required – simply being a caring adult.

A National Day of Action to get REAL FOOD back in schools

time for lunch JerushaKempererOn Tuesday August 25th, Pediatric Safety had the opportunity to interview Jerusha Klemperer, Program Manager for Networks and Partnerships for Slow Food USA, an organization currently responsible for organizing “eat-ins” around the country as part of a National Day of Action. Since “health care reform” and “getting healthier food in schools” are issues that are often top of mind for parents and caregivers these days, we wanted to spend some time with her and understand what her organization was, and why a “day of action” was needed.


PedSafe: There are a lot of definitions of Slow Food on your site. What exactly is Slow Food and what does it mean for families?

Jerusha: First, think of Slow Food as in the opposite of fast food. Slow Food tries to connect people w/understanding where their food comes from…as well as support the people who grow their food on a small scale and try to produce good/clean/fair food in a sustainable way.

Now as far as good / clean / fair food: The word good can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. For Slow Food, the idea of good means enjoying delicious food created with care from healthy plants and animals. When we talk about clean food, we are talking about nutritious food that is as good for the planet as it is for our bodies. Food that is fair should be accessible to all, regardless of income, and produced by people who are treated with dignity and justly compensated for their labor.

TIME FOR LUNCHtime_for_lunch-2-25inbutton

PedSafe:We know on Labor Day Sept 7th – there’s a big event you’re coordinating – Time for Lunch National Day of Action to get REAL FOOD in schools. There’s a lot of information on your website about the Time for Lunch campaign – and about what you stand for …in short, can you tell us what “Time for Lunch” is really about?

Jerusha: There are some fundamental reasons we list on our site for why there’s a need for something like Time for Lunch:

Today, one in four children is overweight or obese, and one in three will develop diabetes in his or her lifetime. In the face of this crisis, our schools are financially struggling to feed children anything but the overly processed fast food that endangers their health. For many children, school lunch is their only guaranteed meal of the day. Right now, those children are forced to choose between going hungry and being unhealthy. The need for real school food has never been greater.

The National School Lunch Program provides a meal to more than 30 million children every school day. By giving schools the resources to serve real food, we can grant 30 million children the freedom to be healthy. By teaching children to eat well, we can make a down payment on health care reform. This fall, the Child Nutrition Act, which is the bill that governs the National School Lunch Program, is up for reauthorization in Congress. By passing a Child Nutrition Act that works for children, our nation can take the first step towards a future where no child is denied his or her right to be healthy and where every child enjoys real food.

If I had to pick the top 3 things we stand for – what Time for Lunch hopes to accomplish – they would be:

  1. INVEST IN CHILDREN’S HEALTH – Give schools just $1 more per day for each child’s lunch. Today, under the National School Lunch Program, schools are given $2.57 for a free lunch, $2.17 for a reduced-price lunch and 24cents for a paid lunch; after all overhead costs are paid, schools are left with approximately $1 to spend on food per child.
  2. PROTECT AGAINST FOODS THAT PUT CHILDREN AT RISK – Hold all food on a school campus to equal standards – including vending machine and school fast food. If the school chooses to be healthy, vending machines with junk foods will not help the obesity problems
  3. TEACH CHILDREN HEALTHY HABITS THAT WILL LAST THROUGH LIFE – Fund programs that “introduce” healthier foods to kids in “creative” ways to inspire healthier eating habits. It’s not a boring old carrot – its one you planted and grew and picked…and now you can’t wait to try it. Click here to watch a video of Michelle Obama explaining why it’s important that every child grow up enjoying fresh, healthy, unprocessed food.

PedSafe: How do you deal with the fact that – as President Obama recently commented – kids typically like the taste of food that is bad for them.

Jerusha: A colleague of mine said something interesting…we don’t ask kids what they want to learn in English…we teach them what they need to learn. In school we hold them to a higher standard and nourish their minds. Why not in the cafeteria? Most of the time the only apple they’ve had is an industrial apple and it doesn’t taste very good – give them a fresh delicious apple that they’ve seen grown & most of the time it blows their mind & they like them. It’s our job to educate them – if we don’t we’re letting them down.

Time for lunch banner-small


PedSafe: Tell me more about these Eat-Ins you are organizing on this National Day of Action…what are they and who is participating?

Jerusha: An Eat-In (part potluck, part sit-in) takes place in public and gathers people to support a cause – like getting real food into schools. On Labor Day, people in communities all over the country will sit down to share a meal with their neighbors and kids. Right now we have 269 eat-ins all over the country in all 50 states. Slow-Food has 220 chapters all over the country, and right now ½ of the eat-ins are being organized by the chapters, ½ are organized by people just concerned about kids: parents, farmers, school nutrition counselors, churches, etc.

PedSafe: And the goals for that day?

Jerusha: Because this is a grass roots effort our goals were to reach a lot of people and communicate our issues; so far we’re happy to say we’ve surpassed our goals

PedSafe: Overall what kind of message are you sending? Healthier eating? Or do you promote a way of life?

Jerusha: In a broad general way – it’s really simple: “ We’d like to get real food into schools…” ; we’re not telling people what to eat; we’re just connecting people to food and trying to avoid overly-processed food.

PedSafe: What exactly are you hoping to accomplish with the National Day of Action campaign?

Jerusha: This is a real grass-roots campaign. Our hope is our legislators will see that 200,000+ came out because they believe what we believe – the 3 points I mentioned earlier…and that when it comes time to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act, this will have made a difference in getting an additional $1 authorized for school lunches.

PedSafe: At this point, how can someone get involved in the National Day of Action? You list a lot of ways on your site… What would you recommend for families?time_for_lunch-eat_in-20080901

Jerusha: My suggestion:

  1. If they don’t have plans for labor day – find an eat-in near by – go attend a public potluck with their kids in their neighborhood
  2. If not one nearby – get together w/friends & neighbors & have your own…take a picture and send it in to
  3. Sign the petition on the website. (just past 10,000 signatures – we’re hoping for 20k by September 7th)

PedSafe: Pediatric Safety is a community of parents and caregivers (doctors, nurses, emergency responders, teachers, etc.), that come together to protect the health and safety of kids. What do you want to say specifically to them?

Jerusha: We all need to think about food and health as connected. Eating real food is the best kind of preventative there is.


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