Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 10-08-2012 to 10-14-2012

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world.

Each day we use Twitter to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues who are not on Twitter (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 10 news-worthy events.

PedSafe Headline of the Week:

The Digital Divide: How Teens Are Fooling Their Parents http://t.co/XTOSnmMc

Halloween Costumes for Special Needs Kids

Little Carter has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair, so his dad made him an amazing ice cream truck costume that incorporates the chair. Carter, as Buster’s Ice Cream, has gone viral on the internet thanks to his dad’s creativity and his adorableness.

Need some ideas for a special needs child in a wheelchair this Halloween? Check out my article from 2009. The Christopher and Dana Reeves Foundation has some great ideas, including Fred Flintstone in his car, a drummer with a drum set, Cinderella in her coach, a flower garden and more. The bulldozer driver costume here is great, too.

Here are some more ideas from my own brainstorming session:

  • The Lincoln Memorial
  • A judge
  • A toll booth operator
  • A UPS driver
  • For tweens and teens looking for something more edgy, try an electric chair victim

If your child uses a walker you can use that as part of the costume, too. A sushi chef, bartender, hot dog vendor, keyboard player or even Mr. Fredrickson from Up are just a few ideas (don’t forget the tennis balls!). Feeding tubes or other medical equipment can also be accomodated or camoflauged with some extra planning and creativity.

As you construct a costume or take a child out for Halloween, keep safety and comfort in mind:

  • Use reflective material, glowsticks or lights
  • Be sure masks or hoods allow the child to see well enough
  • Keep hems short to avoid tripping
  • Use soft materials and take the child’s sensory needs into consideration

Share your ideas in the comments! Add photos on my Facebook page.

Happy Halloween!

Comfort Your Child: Sick Day TLC

Help make your little one’s sick day a little better with some creative touches you can both feel good about.

Feed a Cold

Sick kids don’t always want to eat, but it’s important to make sure they get enough nutrients. Make a game of it by playing restaurant: Give your child a menu of healthy choices, write his “order” down on a notepad, then deliver the meal on a tray. Keep it fun with foods like “orange smiles” (oranges sliced into smiles); toast cut into fun shapes with cookie cutters; or chicken soup served in a thermos. To soothe a sore throat, Amy Clark, founder of MomAdvice.com, suggests fruit-juice popsicles or a fruit smoothie (a mix of ice, yogurt and fruit in a blender). For a fun, fizzy drink, mix a colorful electrolyte juice with ginger ale and serve in a fancy glass – don’t forget the silly straw!

Make a Sick Day Special

Keep a few special items on hand that you only pull out for sick days. Clark suggests hitting a thrift store to buy a small, inexpensive suitcase. Decorate it with brightly colored buttons and bows, and fill it with some special items: pajamas with your kid’s favorite cartoon character on them, a mug with a family photo on it, and a few toys, games, coloring books, puzzles and art supplies reserved just for sick days.

Try a Spoonful of Sugar

Get little ones to take their medicine by mixing liquids or crushed pills with something sweet, like a smoothie, pudding, applesauce or fruit-flavored yogurt. (Just be sure to ask your pediatrician or pharmacist if it’s OK first, and make sure your child takes the entire dose.) You can also make liquid meds fun by using a medicine dropper instead of a spoon — let your child squirt it into his own mouth one drop at a time.

Soothe Aches and Pains

For a fever, congestion, or aches and pains associated with the flu, a little TLC can go a long way. Try massaging your little one’s aching neck and shoulders. Clark also suggests filling a tube sock with rice and freezing it to use as a cold pack. Help to clear a stuffy head by enclosing yourselves in the bathroom with a steamy shower: Clark recommends letting your child wear his bathing suit for a “day on a tropical island,” and for a special touch, adding bubbles and tub toys.

Create a Comfort Zone

Kids need to get a lot of quiet rest when they’re sick. Create a space where they’ll actually want to relax by pitching a tent in the living room and filling it with a sleeping bag, pillows and a flashlight, as well as some favorite books, stuffed animals and quiet activities like puzzles and board games.

Play Doctor

Keep a toy doctor’s kit on hand, and with your kid, practice looking into each other’s ears, giving pretend shots and listening to each other’s coughs. Be the nurse and come in to check on your “patient” often. Fluff the pillows, take his temperature and listen to his heartbeat.

Go Old-school

Skip the TV, video games and movies, and instead take advantage of some quality quiet time with your child. Play a few rounds of tic-tac-toe, I Spy, Go Fish or charades. Make up stories, cut out paper dolls, sort through old photographs, or pull out some old board games, puzzles and coloring books.

Reach Out

When you’re away from your sick kid, Clark suggests keeping in touch by using a baby monitor – many of the newer models offer two-way communications. You can also give your child a bell, a walkie-talkie or a cell phone to get your attention when you’re needed.

Turn the Lights Out

Help your kid get into “rest mode” by pulling down the shades, turning off the lights and playing some quiet activities together in bed. Carole Kranowitz and Joye Newman, authors of Growing an In-Sync Child: Simple, Fun Activities to Help Every Child Develop, Learn and Grow suggest a game of ceiling flashlight tag or shadow puppets on the wall. Stick some glow-in-the-dark stars on your child’s ceiling and make wishes. Tell ghost stories (not too scary – you want your kid to fall asleep!). Or just lie down, cuddle up and take a nap together.



Child Health Safety News Roundup: 10-01-2012 to 10-07-2012

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world.

Each day we use Twitter to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues who are not on Twitter (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 20 news-worthy events.

PedSafe Headline of the Week:

Genetic Test for Newborns may enable diagnoses of hundreds of genetic conditions in about 2 days http://t.co/0Whsdhtx

How to Set Limits for Your Teched-out Tween

By the time they hit middle school, most kids either have cell phones and Facebook accounts – or are begging to get them (“Everyone else has an iPhone!”) – leaving parents to figure out how much digital time is too much. Setting boundaries early can help keep things in balance, at least for a while.

Once kids hit their teens, social media takes a huge bite out of their free time. The average 12- to 17-year-old blasts out 60 texts every day, according to a 2012 study by the Pew Research Center, and nearly one-fourth of teens plug into a social media site at least 10 times per day, according to a 2011 report in the journal Pediatrics.

Here, experts explain how to set limits on your teched-out tweens … while you still can.

Talk before you make rules. Kids are more rational than we give them credit for. “If you ask kids whether they want to spend five hours a day in front of a screen, most say it’s unreasonable,” says Dr. Dina Borzekowski, professor of health, behavior and society at Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health. Then set rules that they agree to keep.

Choose a hard number. It may be difficult to always enforce, but come up with a set time formula for kids to stick to, suggests Dr. Larry Rosen, psychology professor at California State University, Dominguez Hills, and author of Me, MySpace and I: Parenting the Net Generation. Start with a 1-5 ratio: For every minute of gadget time, younger kids should spend five minutes of free time doing something else. As tweens become teens, adds Rosen, expect that balance to shift, perhaps tipping to 5-1 the other way.

Pick the right plan. Pick a phone package that gives your tween enough usage time but not too much. “Otherwise, you’re going to get a $500 phone bill for text messages,” says Rosen. Tell her how much time she has to use monthly, and explain that she will have to pay for overtime using her own money.

Create a no-phone zone. If the phone’s within reach, it’s hard to ignore — for kids and parents. Choose times and places at which phones aren’t allowed: the dinner table, the family room when everyone is together, and the kids’ bedrooms at night. That includes your phone, says Borzekowski: “If parents constantly check text messages during supper, what’s going to prevent a tween from doing the same?”

Establish penalties. Consequences are what make rules stick. If your tween breaks one of the rules (e.g., bringing his phone to bed), start with a short-term punishment, such as banning video games for the rest of the day, suggests Rosen. If they continue to disobey, double the punishment to two, and then four, days. “Pretty soon, they get it,” says Rosen. “I’ve rarely seen kids get past four days.”

The limits you set for your middle-schoolers may not last, but they will help keep tech time in check for a while … and set an example for spending more face time and less screen time in the future.



Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 09-24-2012 to 09-30-2012

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world.

Each day we use Twitter to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues who are not on Twitter (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 20 news-worthy events.

PedSafe Headline of the Week:

Finally – Safe Transport for Kids in Ambulances…Thanks NHTSA! http://t.co/YGpgFhVH