Middle School Food Allergy Blues

tweens eating lunchRemember those long, warm summer days when your child would wake up and come running into your bedroom to say good morning? That faint pitter patter, shuffling mixed with the familiar scent that only belongs to your child and nobody else’s? Hours of cuddles, hugs, late breakfasts and kisses- endless, silly kisses. Then, the beginning of Middle School and all of that just STOPS. No more affection in front of their friends or asking your child if they want another hug. Suddenly, your child is their own person and with food allergies, this new found individuality offers a brand new level of anxiety to keep under control as a parent.

Time to Switch Gears

This will begin a new phase to your life as a food allergy parent. No more “helicopter parent” because this may cause your child embarrassment- I mean, who else starts Middle School and has a parent tagging along all of the time? Before opting to be a living extension of your child, first consider how your child will feel about it as well. Think back to when you started Middle School and ask what would have been acceptable for your parent to be a part of during the school year. As difficult as this will be, I promise that Middle School events are far less food-oriented so that in itself will allow both of you a little extra breathing room. After all, this also means a new learning curve for your child and how they will continue to handle their own safety too.

Ask Your Child’s Permission First

I know this may seem like the opposite of what you have done (ever!) but trust me, this one is especially important to both of you. Rather than declaring that you have signed up for every single committee, every function and all things that may include even a stitch of food, sit down with your child first. Find a time that seems to be comfortable for both of you – that can also offer an extra bonus of bonding time as well. Our son seems to be more willing to talk to us when we go to say good night and he’s winding down from his day. It’s one of the few times during the day when he is not rushing, not stressing about a school assignment or talking to his friends. Sit on your child’s bed, begin with another subject and then ease into what they would like to see you be a part of.

Become a Silent Super Parent

There are ways to still be the helicopter parent, but in disguise. Once you and your child have established the new limits, begin to include the teachers. Many teachers are already feeling overwhelmed with the large number of students in their classrooms. When it comes to a child with life-threatening food allergies, they are always looking for extra back-up. Offer to bring in some of the foods for any class festivities as well as extra wipes. I have often joked that I will be the quiet person in the back of the room collecting garbage and silently wiping down all of the desks. It sounds funny but schools are always asking for wipes so why not tackle two things at once? Help a teacher, keep your child safe and go home knowing that the potential for an allergic reaction has been limited.

Transform into the Cool Parent

Sometimes, this even makes you the cool parent without even trying. Many parents work and many children of those parents often wish that their mother or father was going with them to these fun school outings. Never once have I been asked why I chaperone so many trips and so often. What I have had positive experience with very often include my son’s classmates approaching me, saying hello and asking me if I have any of those “awesome goodies that I had like last time”. They don’t ask of they are allergy-friendly and we don’t tell- but my son is always the first to offer to share even though he cannot have whatever his friends are having. It’s like this with adults too- we all want whatever someone else has that’s different. Thus begins leaving the label of allergy parent and becoming the cool parent.

It’s Ok to STILL Worry

Any parent, allergic or not, will always worry about their child regardless of what happens- always. Remember that this is natural and this does not mean that you are over-protective or under skilled as a parent. When it comes to any situation with your child, it’s always better to check and double-check until you know that the situation is as controlled as it can be by you. Just remember that the new found “cool parent” gets better results if this is handled a bit more calmly rather than when you initially became a food allergy parent. (Unsure? Let me reshare how it most likely was then continue to read- just click here.)

Remember- just as you are getting comfortable with this new found parenting and food allergy freedom, High School will begin! 🙂

How many calories does a child of 7-10 need?

Children aged 7-10 years old need lots of energy and nutrients because they’re still growing. The amount of energy that food and drink contains is measured in both kilojoules (kJ) and kilocalories (kcal) and is commonly referred to as calories.

A report from 2011 estimated that the average energy requirements for children aged 7-10 years old a day are:

Age (years) Boys Girls
7 6900kJ /1649kcal 6400kJ /1530kcal
8 7300kJ /1745kcal 6800kJ /1625kcal
9 7700kJ /1840kcal 7200kJ /1721kcal
10 8500kJ /2032kcal 8100kJ /1936kcal

However, these figures are only a guide. Children may need more or less than these estimates depending on a number of factors, including how physically active they are. Read tips for getting active with your kids.

While the amount of energy your child needs is important, they should also eat a healthy balanced diet.

Healthy balanced diet

A healthy balanced diet for children aged 7-10 should include:

  • at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day
  • meals based on starchy foods, such as potatoes, bread, pasta and rice (choose wholegrain varieties when possible)
  • some milk and dairy products (choose low-fat options where you can)
  • some foods that are good sources of protein, such as meat, fish, eggs, beans and lentils

Make sure that your child doesn’t eat too many sugary or fatty foods, such as sweets, cakes and biscuits. They also shouldn’t have too many sugary fizzy drinks.

These foods and drinks tend to be high in calories but contain few nutrients. Get ideas for healthier school packed lunches and helping your family get 5 A DAY.

Read the answers to more questions about healthy eating.

Further information:

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 07-20-2015 to 07-26-2015

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 5 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
7 Skills Students Need for Today’s Classwork http://t.co/zG49lw1jma
Worth reading, even if you have younger kids

Texas’ New Child Vehicular Heatstroke Law: What It Means to Me

The Sun is Setting on Vehicular heatstrokeI received a call on the evening of Friday, June 19, 2015, which brought me to tears for the remainder of the weekend. Tears of bittersweet joy; tears of validation from four exhausting years of battle against the often unknown danger of Child Vehicular Heatstroke (aka child hot car deaths or vehicular hyperthermia) due to Forgotten Backseat Baby Syndrome (FBS); and most importantly, tears of HOPE. What was the origin of such passionate tears? The signing of Texas HB2574 into law by Governor Abbott that day. This law adds the danger of child vehicular heatstroke to the list of topics that must be reviewed with parents of newborns prior to hospital discharge as required by the Texas Health and Safety Code. It is unique in the setting of vehicular heatstroke laws in that it provides for information and resources for PREVENTION of children being left unattended in vehicles BEFORE a child enters a vehicle for the first time. Other vehicular heatstroke laws only address punishment for leaving children unattended in vehicles or exemption from prosecution of good samaritans who break into vehicles to rescue unattended children.

My Vehicular Heatstroke Story: ONE WRONG TURN to Tragedy

My entire household overslept on the morning of May 25, 2011. I was awakened by Ray Ray’s sweet giggles and kisses on my face, followed by a glance at the clock that read 9:43 am!!!! We rushed to get ready for our day, then I followed my husband and child to his truck, where we both placed Ray Ray securely in her car seat. I waved as they descended down the driveway, then carried on with my workday. ray ray family pic 2011I had no idea that a tragic error, one that would decimate my family, would be made in the next seven minutes: a RIGHT turn at a critical traffic intersection instead of the LEFT turn required to reach Ray Ray’s childcare center.

Fast forward less than three hours later. I picked up my husband at his office for a quick lunch date. We talked during that drive about our little princess and how beautiful she was in her new dress, a birthday gift from her teacher, for “Tropical Day” at the daycare. Then, as I pulled into the parking lot, my husband said to me, “Go back to the office”. I asked why. He repeated, “just go back to the office…. Immediately”. As I approached a red traffic light, he instructed me to run the light…this was so weird to me, so I asked: “WHAT is going on?” Then my world started spinning as I heard his words: “I can’t remember dropping Ray Ray off at daycare this morning”.

As I sped to the office, I instructed him to call the office and have them check the truck. At the same time, I called the daycare….almost simultaneously as I heard confirmation from her teacher that she was not present, the office manager told my husband that they removed her from the truck. Two calls to 911 were placed within one minute of each other, one by me, the other from the office. Despite all of our efforts to save her, Sophia Rayne (aka “Ray Ray”), my soulmate, was pronounced dead at 2:49 pm. My soul died as she did, and my heart broke into millions of pieces, some of which would never be recovered….In short, my entire world crumbled into dust. Sadly, there would be many more cases that summer, and in the years since, many whose stories sounded EXACTLY like ours: a forgotten childcare drop-off by a responsible parent. Many of them also originating from one wrong turn on the morning of that fateful drive.

Child Vehicular Heatstroke: Just the Facts

jan null airbag vs heatstroke death - graphChild vehicular heatstroke is the leading non-traffic cause of fatalities for children under 14 years of age. According to data from noheatstroke.org by Jan Null, CCM, at least 647 children have perished since 1998 from this often unrecognized, commonly misperceived danger to child passenger safety. Most of these children were mistakenly forgotten in the backseat by good parents, victims of ‘Forgotten Backseat Baby Syndrome’ (FBS; an unintended consequence of moving children to the backseat in the 1990s). They were most frequently on their way to a childcare provider when they were tragically forgotten. The second most common source of child hot car deaths: UNLOCKED CARS! Almost 30 percent of cases involve children gaining access to an unlocked vehicle then becoming trapped inside. Sadly, nearly 75 percent of all child hot car deaths involve children under the age of two (Data on file, Ray Ray’s Pledge).

The NEW Vehicular Heatstroke Law in Texas (HB2574)

Reqd Safety Info for Parents of Newborns TX

Texas leads the nation in child hot car deaths. As of this writing, at least 96 little Texans have died from vehicular heatstroke since 1998. My precious Ray Ray was number 74. Prior to my loss, I had NEVER heard about the remote possibility of a sane, responsible parent forgetting one’s child in the backseat under the perfect storm of conditions such as change in routine, sleep deprivation, and/ or stress paired with a fateful distraction while driving (eg: a wrong turn, road construction leading to detoured route, being cut off in traffic by another driver, an emergency phone call)….NOT at my OB appointments, not in the numerous parenting classes we took as nervous first-time parents-to-be, not at the hospital after she was born, and not in our pediatrician’s office. I have waged my own war against child vehicular heatstroke over the past four years to change that for other families. NO child should have to die for a family or a community to learn about this danger to child passenger safety for the first time. The new vehicular heatstroke education requirement prior to newborn hospital discharge in Texas provides the first critical step to making sure that parents are informed of the dangers of children left unattended in vehicles WITHOUT a child having to die in order to gain such knowledge. Texas HB2574 gives me hope and new inspiration to fight even harder in my war to end child vehicular heatstroke. As a parent survivor of a vehicular heatstroke victim, I am so proud of the team of citizens and legislators who made this possibility a REALITY. Further, I feel validated that, FINALLY, child vehicular heatstroke will be recognized as a danger as pertinent to new parents as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

RRP logo 2014A Call to Action for Other States

In conclusion, I urge parents from other states to contact your legislators and demand the same vehicular heatstroke education for new parents. Though not foolproof, early preventive education of a too-often unknown danger to child passenger safety is a great start to driving to zero child hot car deaths. The life that is saved by such information could be YOUR child!

For more information and resources related to child vehicular heatstroke, please visit our website: www.RayRaysPledge.com.

5 Phases Hybrid Glass Bottles: A Safe, Healthy Way to Feed Baby

With the arrival of one of life’s most precious gifts, we as parents find ourselves paying a little more attention to the world in which our children will grow. We naturally find ourselves wanting to give them the safest and best of everything. After the birth of our second child my eyes were opened and I became educated about how chemicals in the environment are affecting us, especially our children. I share my story to hopefully make people realize, we need to make some changes.

After years of disappointment from unsuccessful infertility treatments and multiple miscarriages we finally had a viable heartbeat from our baby. But the smiles were short lived when during a routine ultrasound our doctor informed us our baby could possibly have a birth defect. After numerous tests the defect was confirmed but did not appear to be genetic. There was no certainty on the cause but this particular birth defect was on the rise. In the mid 1980’s approximately 1 in 350 babies were born with this birth defect. By the time our baby was born, the numbers had increased to a staggering 1 in 125. I questioned many times what I could have done to prevent this from happening. It wasn’t until a few years later that I had an idea about the possible cause.

In April 2007, I read an article in the Los Angeles Times about plastic baby bottles, and the hormone disrupting effects of BPA and phthalates. These chemicals leach from plastics into our foods and are found in products we use daily. After further research, I discovered studies have shown that even very small doses of these hormone disruptors have been directly linked to early puberty, malformed genitals, infertility, reproductive disorders, diabetes, and cancer. Those most vulnerable are pregnant women and infants. When I read these chemicals were leaching from plastic baby bottles into our babies milk I was mortified and thought there has got to be a way to get parents back to using glass bottles. I found, with the increasing concerns of using plastics, many parents wanted to use glass bottles but feared them breaking. I am an airline pilot. I never thought of myself as an inventor, but I felt the need to help new parents by giving them a better alternative for feeding their babies. Starting from a drawing on a paper napkin and over 4 years of product development I finally launched my hybrid glass baby bottles in December of 2010.

So what exactly is a hybrid glass bottle and how is it different from traditional glass bottles? 5phases bottles are a unique combination of glass and plastic that helps the glass resist shattering, but if shattering occurs, will keep both the broken glass and liquid contained with no mess. The removable and interchangeable glass inserts add convenience and affordability and make an excellent storage solution for pumped milk and formulas. They are also microwavable and freezer safe. This unique design earned us the 2011 JPMA innovationaward at the ABC show.

After everything we had experienced, chemicals and safety were our greatest concern when developing our bottles. 5phases glass bottles were inspected and tested by a third party for known toxic and harmful chemicals. This third party is recognized in the US by the FDA, Canada and in the EU for product safety and quality control. Our bottles passed rigorous infant safety and chemical testing.

People are becoming aware of the hazards of certain plastics. Studies have shown throughout its lifecycle, plastics can continually leach chemicals. Of most concern are plastics labeled #3 polyvinyl chloride, which contain phthalates, #6 polystyrene and #7 polycarbonates which contain BPA. However, there are still concerns associated with ANY plastics leaching chemicals when in contact with food, even BPA free plastics. Experts agree, the better alternative for baby is glass.

So why not just breast feed? I am a true advocate of breast feeding and there is nothing better or more natural than “mom “, but certain circumstances can prevent a mother from breastfeeding. Both of my children had protein allergies and the only solution was a prescription formula called Neocate. Our bottles simply provide a better alternative for moms who are unable to breastfeed and want to use glass.

There is a definite movement towards green living. We live in a world filled with chemicals, and in many instances avoidance proves to be impossible. For this reason we owe it to ourselves, and to our children, to minimize exposure to toxins whenever possible. My dream is one day, we as consumers will demand our products be safe without having to read the fine print on labels. Knowledge is power and with knowledge we can make a difference.


Helpful Bottle Feeding Hints:

  • Disassemble and sterilize new bottles by boiling for 5 minutes prior to use
  • Avoid overheating and test temperature in bottle before feeding
  • Keep baby propped up while feeding
  • Avoid putting child to bed with a bottle; tooth decay may occur with prolong liquid contact
  • Replace nipples regularly for normal wear and tear
  • Bottle feed baby under adult supervision only
  • Always transport glass bottles (and 5phases glass inserts) inside a protective sleeve to help prevent breakage

Note: Studies have shown heating breast milk and formula in microwaves may destroy important nutrients


Editor’s Note: We first showcased the 5 Phases Hybrid Glass Bottles on Pediatric Safety in February 2012. Since then these wonderful innovative bottles have won numerous awards including the 2014 American Baby Best Bottle Picks and the 2015 New York Family Magazine Best Bottle Picks. Our congratulations go out to the 5 Phases folks for 4.5 years of keeping babies healthy and safe.

Toothpaste, Fluoride Varnish & Other Tips for Healthy Kids’ Teeth

From brushing their first tooth to their first trip to the dentist, here’s how to take care of your children’s teeth.

A regular teeth-cleaning routine is essential for good dental health. Follow these tips and you can help keep your kids’ teeth decay-free:

  • help brushing teethStart brushing your baby’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first milk tooth (baby tooth*) breaks through (usually at around six months, but it can be earlier or later). It’s important to use a fluoride paste as this helps prevent and control tooth decay.
  • Children under the age of three can use a smear of family toothpaste containing at least 1,000ppm (parts per million) fluoride. Toothpaste with less fluoride is not as effective at preventing decay. Children between the ages of three and six should use a pea-sized blob of toothpaste containing 1,350-1,500ppm fluoride. Check the toothpaste packet for this information or ask your dentist.
  • Make sure your child doesn’t eat or lick the toothpaste from the tube.
  • Brush your child’s teeth for at least two minutes twice a day, once just before bedtime and at least one other time during the day.
  • Encourage them to spit out excess toothpaste but not to rinse with lots of water. Rinsing with water after toothbrushing will wash away the fluoride and reduce its benefits.
  • Supervise tooth brushing until your child is seven or eight years old, either by brushing their teeth yourself or, if they brush their own teeth, by watching how they do it. From the age of seven or eight they should be able to brush their own teeth, but it’s still a good idea to watch them now and again to make sure they brush properly and for the whole two minutes.

Making Sure They Brush Properly

  • Guide your child’s hand so they can feel the correct movement.
  • Use a mirror to help your child see exactly where the brush is cleaning their teeth.
  • Make tooth brushing as fun as possible, using an egg timer to time it for at least two minutes.
  • Don’t let children run around with a toothbrush in their mouth as they may have an accident and hurt themselves.

Taking Your Child to the Dentist

  • Take your child to the dentist when the first milk teeth (baby teeth*) appear. This is so they become familiar with the environment and get to know the dentist. The dentist can help to prevent decay and identify any health problems at an early stage. Just opening up the child’s mouth for the dentist to take a look is useful practice for when they could benefit from future preventive care.
  • When you visit the dentist, be positive about it and make the trip fun. This will stop your child worrying about future visits. NHS dental care for children is free (in the UK*).
  • Take your child for regular dental check-ups as advised by the dentist.

Find your nearest dentist.

Fluoride Varnish and Fissure Sealants

  • Fissure sealants can be done once your child’s permanent back teeth have started to come through (usually at the age of about six or seven) to protect them from decay. This is where the chewing surfaces of the back teeth are covered with a special thin plastic coating to keep germs and food particles out of the grooves. The sealant can last for as long as 5 to 10 years.
  • Fluoride varnish can be applied to both baby teeth and adult teeth. The process involves painting a varnish containing high levels of fluoride onto the surface of the tooth every six months to prevent decay. It works by strengthening tooth enamel, making it more resistant to decay.
  • From the age of three, all children should be offered fluoride varnish application at least twice a year or more often if needed.

Ask your dentist about fluoride varnish or fissure sealing.

Read more tips on how to look after your children’s teeth.

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