Kid-friendly Foods That Soothe

Last updated on August 29th, 2015 at 05:49 pm

When children are under the weather, they usually turn to Mom for comfort. This season, be prepared with tasty treats that do double duty – they soothe symptoms and help speed up the healing process.

“Runny noses, coughs and intermittent fevers can all be soothed at home,” says Dr. Ben Lee, a hospitalist at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas and an assistant professor of pediatrics at University of Texas Southwestern, in Dallas. “The old adage of a bowl of chicken noodle soup does have some truth, as it provides necessary fluids and calories to help kids feel better.”

There are other options too. Here are a few unexpected, inexpensive and tasty treats to have on hand for your kids this cold and flu season.

Oatmeal Cookies

Every mom knows that extra sleep is key for sick children, but getting an unhappy child to climb into bed is seldom an easy task. Oats contain high levels of tryptophan, the amino acid best known for making you feel sleepy after eating a big turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. A bowl of oats may be a bit heavy on the stomach, especially for a sick kid, but eating one or two oatmeal cookies will produce the same effect and help kids settle down and get the rest they need to feel better.

100 Percent Juice Drinks

It’s normal for most kids to become mildly dehydrated while sick with the flu. Watch for signs, which include a dry or sticky mouth, dry skin, irritability and dizziness. “Liquids are important to prevent dehydration,” says Lee.

The right liquids make all the difference, though. Avoid caffeinated beverages and hydrate kids with 100 percent juice. All-natural juice drinks are fat-free and nutrient-dense, and are loaded with vitamins and immunity-boosting antioxidants that many of their sugary counterparts lack. If the juice is too sweet or strong, mix it with an equal amount of water to dilute the taste without washing away the nutrients. Kids younger than 1 year should hydrate with a beverage that contains electrolytes.

Ginger Ale or Ginger Candies

Many studies have shown that ginger curbs nausea and alleviates an upset stomach. The trick is to find foods and beverages that actually contain pure ginger. Look for the words “ginger” or “ginger extract” on the ingredient list. Some sodas, especially those available in natural food stores, are going to be your best bet. Ginger candies made from real ginger can also help provide relief for older children.

Ice Pops

A cool ice pop can numb irritated nerve endings to help soothe an inflamed sore throat and provide fluids to quell dehydration. Seek out ice pops made from 100 percent juice or fruit puree, and avoid unnecessary artificial sweeteners and additives. Ice pops made from 100 percent juice are loaded with healthy antioxidants, and those fortified with extra vitamins and minerals can give added boost to the immune system to help speed recovery time.


Honey is extremely effective at soothing coughs, according to research from Penn State College of Medicine. In fact, a small dose of buckwheat honey before bedtime reduced the severity and frequency of coughs and provided significant relief to participants in a recent study.

“Honey has been reported to reduce coughing by coating the throat to help reduce irritation,” says Lee. One to two teaspoons thirty minutes prior to bedtime should do the trick, he says. An important warning: Children under 2 years old should avoid this sweet soother to prevent the risk of a botulism infection.

January 7th Sensory Friendly Film: The Adventures of Tintin

Last updated on January 19th, 2012 at 07:59 pm

Once a month, AMC Entertainment (AMC) and the Autism Society have teamed up to bring families affected by autism and other disabilities ”Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings“ – a special opportunity to enjoy their favorite “family-friendly” films in a safe and accepting environment.

The movie auditoriums will have their lights turned up and the sound turned down. Families will be able to bring in snacks to match their child’s dietary needs (i.e. gluten-free, casein-free, etc.), there are no advertisements or previews before the movie and it’s totally acceptable to get up and dance, walk, shout, talk to each other…and even sing – in other words, AMC’s “Silence is Golden®” policy will not be enforced during movie screenings unless the safety of the audience is questioned.

“It can be challenging enough to bring a child to a movie theater” says Special Needs Parenting Expert Rosie Reeves “they are dark, the sound is very loud, there are tempting stairs and rails and they are expected to sit still and stay quiet. When a child has special needs all these elements and many others can prove too daunting to even attempt such an outing. And yet getting out, being with the community and sharing in an experience with an audience can be invaluable for just such children”.

On January 7th at 10am local time, “The Adventures of Tintin” will be screened as part of the Autism Society “Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings” program. Tickets are $4 to $6 depending on the location. To find a theatre near you, here is a list of AMC theatres nationwide participating in this fabulous program.

Coming February 25th: The Secret World of Arrietty


Editor’s note: The Adventures of TinTin is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America. As always, please check the IMDB Parent’s Guide for a more detailed description of this film s to determine if it is right for you and your child.

8 Ways to Help a Shy Child

Last updated on January 31st, 2018 at 05:26 pm

Being a shy child isn’t easy – and for many parents, neither is raising one. You want your child to be happy and make friends, and when you see her hang back, your tendency is to push her into social situations. But pushing won’t give her the skills to control her shyness, according to Bernardo J. Carducci, Ph.D., director of The Shyness Research Institute at Indiana University Southeast.

“Adults think that being outgoing should be naturally occurring, but this is not something you grow out of,” says Dr. Carducci, who has also written The Shyness Breakthrough: A Stress-Free Plan to Help Your Shy Child Warm Up, Open Up, and Join the Fun.

Here are Dr. Carducci’s tips for teaching your child to overcome insecurity and succeed in social situations.

1. Love your child for who she is, not who you want her to be.

A child who undergoes social pressure doesn’t need the added stress of feeling like a disappointment. “You don’t want her to think that because she’s a little different you don’t like her,” says Dr. Carducci.

2. Show up early and give your child a chance to warm up.

Be one of the first ones at the party so your child can acclimate slowly as guests arrive. Allow her to just sit back and observe – even if it’s uncomfortable for you. While you’re waiting, prepare her for action by helping her think of ways to approach the other kids.

3. Help build your child’s confidence one step at a time.

Invite a school friend over to your home – a comfortable environment. Next time, take them to the park or invite a third child over. The key is to build on your child’s success by introducing new social elements one by one.

4. Remind your child of past strategies and successes.

Before your child enters a social situation, look for similarities to situations he’s faced before. Remind him how he handled things that time, and show him how this upcoming encounter is not an entirely new situation.

5. Use family time to discuss and practice social skills at home.

Over dinner, talk about what your child can expect from a certain social experience in advance. Do play-date post-mortems to remind your child of her strengths and problem-solving techniques. Be sure to include her in conversation and save adult-only discussions for later.

6. Give your child a diversity of social experience.

Bring him to different public places – the supermarket, library, post office – where he can engage with other people. Have him hand over the cash or the library card. Ask him to give the mail to the postal worker instead of dropping it in the box.

7. Be involved in the lives of others where sharing occurs.

Join a volunteer project and bring your shy child with you. That way she can see people with common goals and values working together. Help out an elderly neighbor together so your child participates in acts of kindness.

8. Be social too.

“Let your child see you be outgoing – talking to people, inviting people over,” says Dr. Carducci. Just like reading in front of children helps them become readers, socializing in front of a shy child helps her overcome her insecurities and learn the social skills she needs.

Daycare vs. Babysitter – Is There a Right Choice?

Last updated on December 26th, 2011 at 01:54 am

So I am about to do something I never ever thought that I would do…Hire a babysitter to watch # 3 in my house – Gasp! I am a big, big proponent of daycare and I am famous for standing on my soap box and telling anyone who will listen why to choose day care over a babysitter. And here I am seriously considering a sitter. So let me tell you why I’m torn. For my 1st child I absolutely was sending her to daycare. In a nutshell I prefer it. Let me say generally when I say day care I am referring to one that you have thoroughly researched and are sure it is licensed and has no violations against it and one that is NOT in someone’s house.

I can honestly go on and on about daycare but I don’t have the space here so I’ll put my top two reasons.

  1. Socializationthe socialization children receive in a daycare setting is priceless. Your child will learn how to share, play with other children and wait their turn and wash their hands and eat together at a table and …the learning is endless.
  2. Accountabilitychances are your child will never be alone with an adult in day care, it’s pretty difficulty, most daycares have open bathrooms for the little ones (no doors) so there’s no privacy. In all the years I have been a prosecutor in child abuse and sex crimes I have handled thousands of cases, I personally have never had a physical or sexual abuse case where the child was victimized at day care. My office has handled a handful of physical abuse case against a daycare worker but that is the exception not to rule. However, and this is huge, in most of my cases (when I say most I mean 100%)… where there is an allegation of sexual or physical abuse of a child the accused is a family member or a close friend. The accused is NOT a stranger. Unless you have a nanny cam there is no accountability for your sitter.

It is a huge step to trust someone with your child especially your first because chances are you have never seen the sitter take care of a child before. So you may ask why would I go against my own advice now and choose a sitter for #3? Convenience, that’s why. I am all ready to go back to work (not really but I must) and I have no child care lined up for #3. I was considering a few daycares and discussing this dilemma with my cleaning lady/ occasional babysitter/friend when she said “I’ll watch the baby!” WOO HOO really I thought? I love, love, LOVE this woman and so do my kids. I never even thought about having a babysitter until she suggested it. And you know what she said to me? “You can’t send #3 to daycare, you need someone here to clean up for you and to cook dinner for you!” REALLY? Yes I do actually. I really trust this woman and I have seen her with my kids. I have been to her house and know her family. Sometimes she even stops by unexpectedly on a Saturday and plays with my kids.

Returning to work with 3 kids will be a lot. And the less I have to do when I get home the easier my life is. My job is tremendously stressful and I don’t want to worry about all the extras when I get home from work. I want to come home and play with the kids and hear all that I missed while I was at work. All of my worries went out the window with a 3 minute conversation with a friend. I know my kids will be safe and happy with the sitter … still, that’s not to say there won’t be a camera in this house.

Erin’s Law: Teaching Children to Recognize & Avoid Sexual Abuse

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 11:24 am

In October, New York State announced it would join the ranks of those states to introduce a bill entitled Erin Merryn’s Law. The measure would require schools to make a change to their existing curriculum for child abduction to include child sexual abuse prevention. This alteration would give critically important information to victims – many of whom do not know there is a way out of their horrific situation. As a child, Merryn was abused by both a neighbor and a family member. She says she stayed silent due to a combination of threats from her abusers, and the lack of knowledge about available help. If passed, New York would become the third state to enact Erin Merryn’s law, following Missouri and Merryn’s home state of Illinois.

In light of recent events at our nation’s universities, parents should continue to be vigilant about teaching child sexual abuse prevention in the home. By age three, children should be taught that their bodies have private parts and no one is to touch those parts (with the necessary medical and hygiene exceptions). Of course children should be taught the correct terminology for their body as nicknames can be confusing and delay a disclosure. The following are some tips that are often overlooked:

  1. When someone tickles a child, if the child says No, all tickling should cease. Children need to know that their words have power and No means No.
  2. Teach children that it is OK to say No to an adult. Without permission from you, many children may be reluctant to do so even if the adult is doing something that makes them feel uncomfortable.
  3. Teach children that all of these lessons apply to other children as well. If another child is touching your child in a way that makes him or her uncomfortable, teach your child to say No, get away and tell someone.
  4. Be careful with the language you use when speaking with children. Avoid saying things such as “Have a good day and do everything your teacher tells you to do.” Children are very literal and need to be told that they should not listen to someone who is telling them to do something that might be harmful to them or to someone else.
  5. Let your child decide how they want to express affection. If they do not want to hug or kiss Grandpa goodbye or sit on Santa’s lap, do not force them. You take away their power over their own body if you force them to be demonstrative in their affection. Children need to be taught their body belongs to them.
  6. Teach children to respect the privacy of others. They should learn to knock on doors that are shut before opening them and close the door to the bathroom when they are using it. If they learn to respect the privacy of others, they may be more likely to recognize that an invasion of their privacy could be a red flag meaning danger.
  7. Use your poker face. Encourage your child to come you if they have questions about anything. Avoid looking shocked or embarrassed by the question. Children who sense their parents’ discomfort will be less inclined to approach the parent next time he or she has a question.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused by age 18 in the United States. 93% of the abuse happens at the hands of those entrusted with the care and protection of the child. With the passage of Erin Merryn’s Law, critical information will reach every child in New York State.

Is your state advocating for the welfare of children?

Helping Hands Bakery: Gluten Free Love for Special Needs Families

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 11:24 am

Hi folks! I’d like to introduce you to Bridget Lane, the founder of the Helping Hands Bakery and Bake Works. Please take a minute to get to know her and her bakery’s wonderful mission: Helping people with special needs work in a fully inclusive environment that helps to grow their self reliance & self-esteem while they earn honest pay.

Let’s start with a little background on Helping Hands Bakery… How long have you been in business?

We’ve been selling gluten free cookies and baked goods for over 4 years.

How did you come up with the idea?

After my oldest son was diagnosed with autism in 2006 (he was 3 years old) I decided to try and stop feeling sorry for myself and do something positive for my boys and the community. I kept hearing other parents talk about “what are we going to do when our kids are older? Will they be able to go to school dances? Will they have friends? Will they go to prom? Get married? All of this was a bit too much to take in.

I remember eating dinner with my husband and I said “I want to create a company where our child will have a job and I want to hire people with special needs”. At the time I thought any type of food company might be fun. I loved to cook and was a registered dietitian with food service experience. Soon after my oldest was diagnosed we started a gluten free casein free diet…and I started to create lots of homemade “messes” while trying to create an amazing gluten free cookie. It took about 6 months of experimenting with gluten free ingredients before I was happy with my creation.

In April 2007 my twin sons were also diagnosed with autism and I decided it was time to get rolling with my ideas. Originally, the plan was to sell gluten free cookies made by volunteers and donate the proceeds to agencies around Boulder and Denver that help people with special needs. But it wasn’t long until I began to see a real need in the community for more than that… for job mentorship/inclusion for people with special needs. So in 2008, we expanded to start offering vocational training for people with special needs.

In the end, everything came together to create this synergistic respite for me: getting out of the house 1-2 nights each week to bake cookies that would raise money for people with special needs was very therapeutic.

Are you exclusively Gluten Free? If so, why?

There is a big need for delicious gluten free baked goods (which lots of people need due to gluten intolerance, Celiac disease, special needs, or personal choice). It’s a bit of a challenge to create it too, which is why I’m so happy when people enjoy my cookies, tea cakes, and bars.

Did you ever find it difficult to be totally Gluten Free? i.e. I’m assuming this can sometimes be a difficult transition. Any words of advice for families new to this?

I think it can be daunting at first, but focusing on the “naturally gluten free foods” first will help you ease into the GF lifestyle. Allowed foods: fruits, vegetables, rice (all varieties), potatoes, meats (unprocessed).

  • Cut out the easier things first: gluten filled items: pasta, bread, cookies, etc.
  • My kids loved pretzels, so we substitute with popcorn
  • Instead of regular pasta, my kiddos love Thai Kitchen rice noodles.

Which Helping Hands products are your favorites?

GF Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars and Cookie Bites are my Favorite!! They are pretty close to tasting like Tollhouse!

I also love the Cranberry & Flax for morning snack with coffee. And Gramma Cheryl’s Snickerdoodle (named after my mom) are my other non-chocolate fav ….cinnamon –sugar YUM!

Note: As an editor here at Pediatric Safety AND a new customer of Helping Hands Bakery, may I also say YUMMM!!! I’m addicted to those ICB chocolate chip cookies (not great for my diet but honestly worth it)! My second favorite would have to be the Boulder Bars …although it’s a close race between that and those Monster bites. The Cranberry flax were good, but tasted a little too healthy for me. On the other hand, they were great for my “health conscious gluten-free-wannabe” guy (the reason I bought this to begin with). Now full disclosure folks – I ordered a GF-sampler as a holiday present for my guy after reading about Helping Hands Bakery on Bridget and the wonderful folks from HHB asked if they could send me some additional goodies to review…I said yes…so they did. 🙂 That said, all opinions are my own and no other compensation was provided. Editorial Addendum – I might have to change my favorite from the ICB chocolate chip cookies to the Snickerdoodles. I just had one and I would never in a million years have thought it was gluten-free.

Where can people go to try your products?

Our Helping Hands Bakery Gluten free cookie bites, tea cakes, and bars are sold in Whole Foods Markets in CO, UT, KS, and NM. They can also be found at Green Acres markets in Wichita, KS, and Kansas City, MO. Happy Hearts Specialty Foods in North Platte, NE also carries many of our bars: GF Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars, GF CF Pumpkin Tea Cakes, and GF Boulder Bar (almonds, cranberries, chocolate chips, sunflower seeds).

We also have an online bakery at where we have a sale going on every day!

Finally, we’ve got something special for Pediatric Safety readers:

“Try Something New”

  • Order anything on our site before the January 31st and we’ll send you a free GF Chocolate Chip Cookie Bar AND a free GF Boulder Bar. Just enter the words “TRYSOMETHINGNEW” in the coupon code box when placing your order.
  • If you like what you try, please ask your grocer to consider carrying our products. Have them call us for a sample …and we’ll send you both something new to taste.

With your help we’ll be able to meet our goal of opening additional Helping Hands Bakery Training sites around the country.


Editor’s Note: A gluten-free diet may not always be the right choice for everyone. Please consult with your child’s pediatrician before making any changes to their diet.