Tomorrowland is AMC’s Sensory Friendly Movie for May

Sensory-Friendly-Films-logoOnce a month, AMC Entertainment (AMC) and the Autism Society have teamed up to bring families affected by autism and with other special needs “Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings” – a wonderful 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.

Tomorrowland posterDoes it make a difference? Absolutely! Imagine …no need to shhhhh your child. No angry stares from other movie goers. Many parents think twice before bringing a child to a movie theater. Add to that your child’s special needs and it can easily become cause for parental panic. But on this one day a month, for this one screening, everyone is there to relax and have a good time, everyone expects to be surrounded by kids – with and without special needs – and the movie theater policy becomes “Tolerance is Golden“.

This Saturday May 30th, at 10am local time, the Autism Society’s “Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings” program will be showing Tomorrowland. 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 (note: to access full list, please scroll to the bottom of the page).

Coming June 27th: Inside Out


Editor’s note: Although Tomorrowland has been chosen by the Autism Society as this month’s Sensory Friendly screening, we do want parents to know that it is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for sequences of sci-fi action violence and peril, thematic elements, and language. As always, please check the IMDB Parents Guide for a more detailed description of this film to determine if it is right for you and your child.

Identifying and Managing Hay Fever in Children

Hay fever usually affects children from the age of seven, and older children and teenagers are more susceptible to the allergy than adults.

Hay fever symptoms, including itchy eyes and a running nose, can be particularly distressing for children, who may find the symptoms harder to manage and won’t always realise that they can ask for help.

According to Pierre Dugué, consultant allergist at Guy’s Hospital in London, you should make an appointment with your GP (pediatrician*) to get a diagnosis if you think your child may have hay fever.

“It’s important to know if it’s hay fever, as it could be a non-pollen allergy such as dust mite or pet fur,” says Dugué.

Hay-fever-in-childrenDugué says hay fever has clear seasonal symptoms, which occur at the same time every year. “The strict diagnosis of hay fever is allergy to grass pollen. But your child could also be allergic to tree pollen, which usually comes at the end of spring, before grass pollen is produced.

“Allergy to tree pollen usually means allergy to birch, hazel or elder trees, which are in the same family.”

Signs of Hay Fever in Children

Hay fever often affects children at school, and while it is typically thought of as occurring in summer, the hay fever season in the UK starts much earlier in the year, during the spring. Look out for symptoms from March to October.

Sometimes hay fever can be confused with a virus. The way to tell the difference is by how long the symptoms last. If it’s a virus, they should only last for a week or two.

Viruses rarely last for weeks and weeks. If your child has a constant runny nose and is sneezing every day for part of the year but not in the winter, it’s a sign that they may be allergic to something.

Diagnosing Your Child’s Hay Fever

It’s important that hay fever is diagnosed so it can be treated and your child can take steps to avoid it. If your child only has symptoms in July and August on a very sunny day, it’s almost certainly hay fever.

In this case, you don’t really need a formal diagnosis. But if your child has symptoms all year round and you’re not sure if it’s hay fever, go to your GP (pediatrician*) for a diagnosis. Your child may have perennial allergic rhinitis.

Treating Your Child’s Hay Fever Symptoms

If your child doesn’t like taking tablets, antihistamines are also available as a liquid. Other treatments include steroid nasal sprays.

Eye drops can be particularly useful if eye symptoms are one of the main symptoms of allergic rhinitis.

How to Give Your Child Eye Drops

Below is some advice from the charity Allergy UK on how to give your child eye drops.

  • Before you begin, follow directions such as washing hands in advance to avoid adding more irritants and infections.
  • It can be easiest to administer eye drops by lying your child down and gently pulling down their lower lid – for example, have their head in front of you as they lie on the end of a bed.
  • Older children sometimes like to sit in a chair while the drops are administered as they lean back and look up.
  • When you add one drop gently into the eye, your child will naturally blink as a reflex and may then find the drops initially uncomfortable.
  • When giving eye drops to young children, it can be helpful to have something you can use to distract them once the eye drops have been given, such as letting your child put a star on their chart.
  • It can be helpful to role play with your child using a doll or teddy bear, telling them what is going to happen and letting them do it to their toy themselves after having their own eye drops administered.
  • Remember to praise older children after medication, as it can also be uncomfortable for them. Mentioning to others how well your child is coping while they are present can boost their self-esteem and make them more compliant.

Preventing Hay Fever Symptoms in Children

Pollen is released in the early morning. As the air warms up, the pollen is carried up above our heads. As evening comes and the air cools, pollen comes back down.

This means that symptoms are usually worse first thing in the morning and early evening, particularly on days that have been warm and sunny.

To reduce your child’s exposure to pollens:

  • Keep windows closed at night so pollen doesn’t enter the house.
  • Buy your child a pair of wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen entering their eyes.
  • Smear petroleum jelly (Vaseline) or another pollen blocker around the inside of your child’s nose to trap pollen and stop it being inhaled.
  • Wash your child’s hair, face and hands when they come back indoors, and change their clothes.
  • Don’t let them play in fields or large areas of grassland.
  • Use air filters to try to reduce pollen that’s floating around the house.
  • Keep the car windows shut when driving.

Read about treating hay fever.

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US audience.


Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 05-18-2015 to 05-24-2015

twitter thumbWelcome 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 and Facebook 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 not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 25 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Top Headline of the Week:
Couple Couldn’t Afford Formula So They Added Water to Baby’s Breast Milk With Fatal Results Something new parents NEED to know!

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week #2:
6 Ways to Connect With Teenagers Through Yoga

Dental Crowns: Protecting Your Child’s Baby Teeth

little girl in dental chairThe health of your child’s baby teeth is important for facial growth and development. Baby teeth allow your child to bite and chew solid foods, help with your child’s speech, and serve as a guide for permanent teeth to grow into their proper position. While baby teeth do fall out, it’s important that they stay in the mouth until they are ready to fall out naturally. To save these teeth for as long as necessary, sometimes your dentist will choose to place a dental crown over your child’s baby tooth.

A crown is a tooth-shaped cap that covers the surfaces of the tooth. It is often composed of a silver-colored stainless steel or a tooth-colored resin. Crowns can be placed on both the back teeth (molars) and the front teeth (canines and incisors). Circumstances that may require a crown to be placed on a baby tooth include:

  • Severe decay, often in large areas of the tooth and on more than one surface, in which case a regular filling would not suffice
  • An irregularly developed baby tooth
  • A baby tooth that has undergone root canal therapy
  • A child who is prone to high levels of tooth decay, in which case the crown can prevent further decay from occurring

A dental crown for a baby tooth can often be placed in a single visit. The dentist will use a local anesthetic to numb the area where the crown will be placed. Once numb, a dental dam will be placed over the rest of the teeth to isolate the tooth that is being prepared for a crown. The tooth will be reshaped and any present decay will be removed. Then the crown will be fitted over the tooth to ensure it is the proper size and shape. Once the crown is prepared, the dentist will place it over the tooth and secure it with a sturdy dental cement.

Your child may experience some mild pain after the procedure. Over-the-counter pain medication can help alleviate the pain. Be sure to keep a close eye on your child to make sure he or she does not bite down on the numbed area. It is also a good idea to hold off on solid foods and only give your child soft foods and liquids within the first several hours after the procedure. If any problems occur, be sure to contact your dental office immediately.

You may be wondering – will my child’s baby tooth still fall out normally even though it has a crown over it? The answer is yes, the crowned tooth typically falls out as it normally should when the permanent tooth begins coming in. Regular visits to your dentist can help monitor this and ensure that your child’s teeth remain healthy and continue to develop properly.

Photo credit: ianus; CC license

Annual Checkup Coming? Help Your Pediatrician be an Ally

Doctor checking a boy's ear

I don’t know about others’ experiences, but as my son aged the role and benefit of our wonderful pediatrician shifted. She started out as the font of all child knowledge and mommy reassurance – being both a well-respected doctor and a mother of boys. However, over the years, during his annual checkup, she stopped addressing most of her questions to me and began directing her attention to my son….asking him about aspects of his life like school, friends, exercise and nutrition.

Early on in this process I realized that he wasn’t always painting a complete picture of reality with his answers. Like how he said he regularly ate enough fruit and vegetables, brushed his teeth every day (true, but not always twice), and went to bed at 9:30 (yes, but when did he go to sleep??). And I sat there – wanting to be able to pass thought bubbles to our doctor so she would probe more!

I wanted her authority and influence on my son’s health behavior during these annual checkups – but not through my overt prompting. Kids start tuning out their parents at a certain age and I didn’t want his doctor to seem like an agent of parental control. This was a great concept in theory, but in practice accessing a doctor outside of a scheduled appointment can be like trying to meet the latest chart-topping pop star.

It wasn’t until I finally called her office for advice on this – and got to speak to a person – that I learned they were very familiar with this need to speak to and prepare the doctor before an older child’s annual checkup. The approach our office uses to enable direct contact with the doctor is the same they offered when we first joined the practice with a newborn: early morning phone time at the doctor’s home. Our pediatrician takes calls at her home each morning from 7 to 7:30am, which is great for new parents who don’t know whether they need to bring the baby in to see the doctor or just need some advice. But it never dawned on me that this approach could also be used to help my son’s doctor become a better ally.

It’s not the easiest process, I admit. First I have to even remember to make the call when I’m still waking up and engaged in morning chaos. A note on the kitchen counter usually helps with that. But the biggest challenge is all the other parents trying to reach her at the same time. Her number is constantly busy so I have to keep dialing and redialing to get through. But once I do, I always get results. Like this year, when I talked to her about my son’s habit of sometimes staying up very late (after we’ve gone to bed) to finish homework. I’m worried about his health – but I’ve become a broken record about the issue. So she took on the challenge and in our visit she got him to own up to how late he sometimes goes to bed – and then explained to him the concern in terms he might care about: that as he is heading towards puberty, he needs more sleep if he wants to grow as much as possible because the body makes growth hormone during sleep. And what boy doesn’t want to be tall?

Not every pediatrician will do home phone time, but they should understand the need for parents to prepare them ahead of a checkup with an older child – and it makes it easier for them to do their job well. Check with your doctor’s office to see what approach they have for this type of advance communication. And at a minimum you can ask to speak to the nurse or doctor alone at the start of your child’s next annual visit.

Brown Bag Lunches: Tips for More Nutrition & Fun

It is a misnomer that a meal taken from home is healthier than eaten out. With all due respect, I can say that because I have taken thousands of diet recalls from people of all ages. What I have learned is that we are creatures of habit. We gravitate toward the same foods and meals to get it done quickly. Variety takes creativity, and let’s be honest, variety is generally frowned upon by most kids. They like their favorite foods, and those are the ones they want to see in their lunches each day. However, the sooner you incorporate a variety of foods into your daily diet, the easier it is for your children to accept it. That will become The lunch warsthe new normal.

But this isn’t just about the kids. We need to take a closer look at the quality and variety of our own lunches. I am an encourager of bringing your lunch to work. It saves time, you can maximize nutrition and minimize things such as sodium and saturated fat. We do get ourselves into a rut with the same ‘ole lunches as adults, too. So let’s look at ways to renew our lunch time choices.

MyPlate Template

Lunches brought from home are often unbalanced. Kids lunches are very heavy on fruit and baked chips with no veggies or just one kind repeated over and over (baby carrots!). Adult lunches are often too small and they wonder why they have such sweet cravings at night. A well-balanced lunch is not only having the right foods, but also having enough calories to fuel the rest of your day. That is why the MyPlate meal set-up is such a great visual:


Not only is it a good visual, but it is based on nutritional science for what your body needs – a lean protein, a low-fat dairy, a grain or starchy vegetable, a non-starchy vegetable and a serving of fruit give your body complementary nutrition visa vie the different food groups. These foods don’t have to be all separated, though. A good lunch example: a whole grain turkey wrap with field greens, tomatoes, red onions and avocado with a side salad and a yogurt parfait topped with fruit is a complete MyPlate. See how that works? Work on getting what you should have and what you should limit naturally becomes that – limited. Use the MyPlate template as your guide when putting lunches together and you will balance out well.

Break Out the Thermos

Why don’t we see thermoses used as much these days? I think it is great to have a warm meal at lunch, and for some, the only way to have that happen is by the use of a thermos. Most kids do not have the opportunity to heat their lunches up, so a thermos is a handy tool. For food safety, be sure you heat the food or soup to 160 degrees before putting it into the thermos. Use a food thermometer to ensure the correct temperature. Seal the thermos tight to avoid leaks and premature cooling. The food needs to stay above 140 degrees to stay food safe.

Thermoses open up so much more variety for you and your kids to eat at lunch. Leftovers, soups, crock pot meals, hot pastas/noodle/casserole dishes all become great options.

Eat Seasonally Colorful

Eating seasonally not only promotes variety, it has a tendency to be cheaper! Seasonal produce is cheaper overall. It is really important to vary your produce items to maximize the nutritional profile of your overall intake. We may love broccoli, but broccoli doesn’t give you everything you need and the minerals that the broccoli you eat everyday may be lacking. Locate a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) for the most economical way to buy local and seasonal. Allow the seasons to help promote a varied color on your family’s plate. What’s in season now? Find out HERE.

Try New Recipes

Spend a Saturday or Sunday browsing Pinterest for fun & healthy lunch ideas. I went ahead did the search for you, so all you have to do is click HERE. You can also browse some of Lemond Nutrition Pinterest boards. We are always adding practical food, nutrition, kitchen – and overall wellness pins we find and enjoy ourselves. You can also go to our nutrition resources page on our website to see some of the sites we recommend. Many of those sites have recipe ideas. Fold in some new food ideas periodically to change things up!

Fun Food Containers

You would think this would be especially fun for kids, and it is. Visually-pleasing meal set-ups are overall better accepted meals. But that is the same for adults! I did an entire post on this awhile back (Food Containers: The New Brown Bag), so check out some of the things we highlighted. Head over to the Container Store one afternoon. They have such a great variety of food containers that make eating lunches from home more fun.