Wishing You a Safe, Happy and Healthy New Year!

Thank you to all of our followers!

We’re honored you’ve let us
be a part of your lives!

Looking forward to spending
time with you in 2018


Have a wonderful New Year!

Stefanie, Audra, Jim and Clara

How Can I Make Sure My Toddler Eats Healthy: Parent Q&A

What are healthy snacks for toddlers?

You could try:

  • raw vegetable sticks, such as cucumber and carrots
  • a plain yoghurt with a banana sliced into it
  • a slice of toast with cheese spread, hummus or a slice of ham
  • some crackers, breadsticks or unsalted rice cakes with cheese
  • a bowl of cereal with milk
  • a piece of fruit

What can I pack in my toddler’s lunchbox when they go to nursery (*preschool)?

Good sandwich fillings are canned tuna or salmon, hummus, hard or cream cheese, ham or peanut butter (see Advice on peanut allergy).

You could add a few vegetable sticks, such as carrots, peppers or cucumber, to munch on and a container of bite-sized fruit – for example, a peeled satsuma or washed seedless grapes. A box of raisins is fine if eaten at lunchtime. Examples of healthier sweet options include a yoghurt, fromage frais, a scone or a currant bun.

If you include a fromage frais or yoghurt, don’t forget a spoon. A piece of kitchen towel (*paper towel) is also useful.

If lunchboxes are not kept in the fridge at nursery, use an insulated box with an ice pack to keep food safe and cool. You can give milk, water or well-diluted fruit juice in a leak-proof beaker.

Read more about healthy lunchboxes.

I’ve heard that high-fibre foods aren’t suitable for toddlers. Why?

Fibre is an important part of a healthy, balanced diet. But foods that contain a lot of fibre (such as wholemeal bread and pasta, brown rice and wholegrain breakfast cereals) can fill up small tummies, leaving little room for other foods. This means your toddler can feel full before they’ve taken in the calories they need.

It’s good for your toddler to try different kinds of starchy foods, but don’t give only wholegrain foods before your child is five years old.

My child will only drink sugary drinks. What can I do?

Drinking sugary drinks increases the chance of tooth decay. If your toddler will only drink sugary drinks, it can take a while to break the habit. Start to dilute the drinks with water, increasing the amount of water gradually over time, so the change isn’t too noticeable to them. Water and full-fat cows’ milk are the best drinks for toddlers.

See Drinks and cups for children for a list of other healthier drinks.

Am I entitled to any benefits to help me buy healthy food for my child?

If you have children *(in the UK) under four, you’re pregnant and on benefits, or you’re pregnant and under 18, you may qualify for Healthy Start vouchers.

For more information, visit the Healthy Start website, where you can find out if you qualify for vouchers. If so, you can apply online for Healthy Start vouchers, or get an application form from your GP surgery, midwife or health visitor. You can also call 0845 607 6823 if you would like one sent to you in the post.

Further information

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

NHS Choices logo

From www.nhs.uk

Child Health & Safety News 12/25: Tool Expedites Kids’ Transplants

twitter thumbIn this week’s Child Health News: Major Study Indicates That Therapy Dogs Provide Significant Benefits to Families of Children Undergoing Treatment for Cancer prn.to/2BqTxpq

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 social media to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we overlook something, but overall we think we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. Still, quite a bit happens every day – so to make sure you don’t miss anything, we offer you a recap of this week’s top 15 events & stories.

  • ‘I regularly see rickets’: diseases of Victorian-era poverty return to UK http://bit.ly/2ByHTsv 2017-12-24
  • 16 percent of newborns exposed to opioids in womb, born with neonatal abstinence syndrome http://bit.ly/2C5ORGq 2017-12-23
  • Top Health Concern for Parents: Bullying, Cyberbullying and Internet Safety http://bit.ly/2l8MLOf 2017-12-22
  • How To Simplify Your Family’s Holiday Season zpr.io/nzVqb 2017-12-22
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi is Sensory Friendly at AMC: 12/23 & 12/26 zpr.io/nzVqu 2017-12-22

PedSafe Child Health & Safety News Headline of the Week:
Simple Tool May Expedite Transplants in Kids with Kidney Failure http://bit.ly/2Ca4BuH

  • The Practice of Gratitude: Now and Beyond the Holiday Season bit.ly/2BpwoYk 2017-12-21
  • Mindful Meditation for Families – Calm the Chaos – Thurs Time Capsule bit.ly/2BRzO5x 2017-12-21
  • Youth football and concussions: some good news? bit.ly/2CGNCN5 2017-12-20
  • My Teenager Has Mono (Glandular Fever) – Should I Worry? zpr.io/nzFwY 2017-12-20
  • Quarter of NZ early childhood teachers wouldn’t endorse their own centre http://bit.ly/2BBO8vK 2017-12-19
  • Fostering Hope—Becoming a Foster Family is Challenging but Rewarding ow.ly/j7Ec30hbwyu 2017-12-19
    BC Children’s Hospital tips for holiday child safety http://bit.ly/2l9TZBq 2017-12-18
  • Why You Should NOT Get Your Child a Puppy for the Holidays zpr.io/nzxdw 2017-12-18

Helping Kids Set Goals For The New Year and Keep Them!

Do you know that goal-setting is one of the most highly correlated traits of peak performers and successful individuals? But goal-setting isn’t just for grown-ups.

Studies show that goal-setting can help kids gain the sense of discipline and that internal drive it takes to stay motivated to complete the tasks they’ve set for themselves.

And once they’ve learned how to set their own goal it shows in their performance as well as in their self-esteem! But there are other benefits for teaching goal-setting as well.

Benefits of Goal-Setting for Kids

  • You’ll see your child start a school project–without waiting until the last minute–and finish it.
  • You’ll find your child doing his chores–without your nagging–because he knows he has to do them in order to start on his homework.
  • You’ll discover your child thinking through the jobs he needs to do for the week and making plans to complete them.
  • You’ll also see your child’s confidence grow as he succeeds in the goals he’s set for himself.

The best news is that goal-setting is a skill that we can teach our children at a young age.

7 Steps to Teach Kids Goal-Setting

Here are simple ways to help kids understand what goals are, and why using them can enhance their chances of success.

Step 1. Define the term, “Goal”

One of the easiest ways to explain goals is to link the term to something children are familiar with such as hockey, soccer, or football.

You might say to your child:

“A goal is like a target or something you shoot for. A football player is aiming for a touchdown. A hockey or soccer player is shooting for a goal. Goals aren’t just for sports. Goals in life are something you shoot for to be more successful. People set goals for things they want to achieve or get better at. Planning what you need to work on is called goal-setting. It’s a skill that will help you in school, at home, with your friends, or later in your job or as an adult. It’s a skill that helps you succeed.”

Step 2. Share Your Own Goals and Aspirations

To help children feel comfortable talking about goals, we parents need to share our own aspirations. So take time to share a few of your dreams and wishes and the resolution you plan to set for yourself like losing those extra pounds, learning to text, finally reading and finishing Moby Dick, taking that gourmet cooking class. Whatever!

The secret is to purposefully model goal-setting when your kids can watch or listen. In fact, modeling is such a simple way to learn the skill. All you need to remember is the formula for goal-setting: I will+ what + when and then teach it to your kids.

Goal Formula: I will + what + when: Goals usually start with the words I will and have two parts: a what and a when. The what explains what you want to accomplish. The when tells when you intend to accomplish it.

Then whenever an appropriate moment arises, put your goal into the language of the Goal Formula and model it so that you child sees formula in operation. For instance:

You walk in to the laundry room and find it piled high with dirty laundry. (No surprise in my house). It’s a perfect opportunity to model the formula. Tell what you hope to do, using goal language to your child: “I will get these clothes washed and dried by six o’clock” (what = washing and drying the clothes + when = by six o’clock).

The key is that your kid has now overheard you saying your plan.

REALITY CHECK: Studies find that kids are far more likely to adopt a new habit or skill if they saw it in action (instead of via the lecture or the worksheet). So reflect over just the last week. If you asked your child to describe your behavior would he add “She’s a goal setter!” or “He makes a list of what he aims to do.” or “She tells me what her plans are.” Bottom line: Are you a model of these steps to your child? If not, just tune them up in your own behavior so your child has a real example of goal-setting to copy.

Step 3. Help Kids Create Their “Dream List”

Explain to your children that “goals start with dreams.” Then take time to discuss their dreams, wishes or aspirations. Next, provide paper and colored marking pens for each family member. Take turns writing or drawing dreams of what they wish they could “achieve or have or improve.” Reread the list and help your children select only dreams they actually have power to make happen.

Three crucial questions assure your child’s success. These questions help you determine if the goal is achievable for your child:

1. “Does my child have the necessary skills and knowledge to achieve the goal?”

2. “Does my child need much help from others to succeed at the goal?”

3. “Does my child have enough time to achieve the goal?”

If you answered “no” to any of the questions, you might want to help your child choose another goal.To achieve success the goal must be within your child’s ability and should be realistic.

Help your child recognize that goal possibilities are endless. Here are 15 goal categories for kids to consider:

Goal Possibilities for Kids: Grades. Hobbies or interests. Friends. Exercise. TV viewing. Free time. Savings. Sports. Homework. School. Reading. Behavior. New Skills. Chores. New learning.

Step 4. Tailor the Goal to Your Child

First-time goal-setters need to see some immediate success. Have your younger (or first-time goal-setter) set a goal that can be achieved at least within a week. Here’s a few goals children can achieve in a short time:

Short-Term Kid Goal Possibilities

  • Finishing a simple school project
  • Reading a book (or a page a night)
  • Losing one pound
  • Writing all those thank you notes
  • Cleaning a closet
  • Raking the front lawn leaves
  • Learning how to address an envelope.
  • Practicing the piano 15 minutes a day (then increasing to whatever length)
  • Making his bed every day
  • Picking up her toys and putting them in the toy bin at 3 pm every day
  • Brushing his teeth without reminders.

Some children need to set even shorter goals: at the end of the hour, or a day. Set the length of the goal according to the time you think your child needs to succeed.

Step 5. Help Your Child Think Through Steps to Success

Once your child identifies his resolution or goal he needs to think through the steps to success.

The more children can think through their goal and identify what they need to do to achieve success, the greater the chance they will succeed.

These ideas help children learn to plan the steps they need to take in order to achieve their goals. Choose ones that may work best for your child.

Some kids need to write or draw all the steps. Other children can process this in their heads. Tailor the steps to your child’s ability and learning style,

1. Identify the what + when. First ask, “What do you want to achieve?” Help your child clarify his goal. Then ask, “When will you try to achieve your goal?” Here’s a few examples using the goal formula: “I will get 9 out of 10 spelling words right on my spelling test” “I will be one pound lighter on Tuesday.” “I will learn five math facts in 15 minutes.”

2. List what needs to be done. Ask, “What are all the things you need to do to achieve your goal?” Help your child write or draw a different task on index cards. When finished, reread the tasks and put them in order asking, “What should you do first, then second, and third…?” Keep arranging the strips in sequence, and then staple the packet together. Encourage your child to use the packet as he works on his goal. Each time a task is finished, your child tears off a strip until no more remain!

3. Gather your resources. Ask your child, “Who or what do you need to help you succeed in your goal?” Help your child list or identify all the needed resources. Suppose your child wants to increase his running time. He might list a coach to talk to about running techniques, his Dad to help him practice running, and his Mom to drive him to the track. On the “”What” or “Things” side he might include: an alarm clock to remind him to wake up earlier to get to the track, a stop watch to time himself, and graph paper to list his running times. Encourage him to hang up the page to remember his plan.

Step 6. Track Your Child’s Goal Progress

Write your child’s goal on paper and tack it up on the refrigerator or bulletin board. Tell your child each time he works towards his goals, you’ll mark the effort on the paper. Helping our kids see their goal progress motivates them to keep on trying.

  • Try visual reminders. Stickers or gummed stars are always colorful incentives for younger children to stick onto the page to check their progress. Point out the improvements and say: “Look how much closer you’re getting to your goal!”
  • Use a screensaver. Encourage tweens and teens to take a photo of their goal using their cell phone then keep it as a screen saver to remind them of their intention.

Step 7. Celebrate Family Goal Successes!

Nothing is more affirming to children than succeeding at goals they’ve worked hard to achieve. It’s the tangible proof your child interprets as, “I really did it!” and a great way to nurture your child’s self-confidence. As goals are achieved, celebrate them as a family. You might:

  • Capture the image: Photograph your child achieving her goal and framing it.
  • Victory log: Provide your child with a small notebook or journal (A Victory Log!) for your child to log each goal achievement.
  • Success dinner: Have a Victory Dinner where you cook your child’s favorite dinner and have a Victory Dinner.
  • Balloon pop: Take a dollar bill or a picture of an inexpensive prize and help your child tightly roll and insert it inside a large party balloon. Blow up the balloon and knot hte end. On the outside of the balloon use a black laundry pen to write or draw a goal your child wants to achieve. Tie string to the end and hang the balloon in a special place. Tell the child that the moment he achieves the goal, you will pop the balloon together. The prize inside will be his reward for his hard work. In the meantime, the blown baloon serves as a reminder to work hard at the goal.

Then, help your child set the next goal and the next and the next.

All the best for a happy, peaceful New Year!


UnSelfie 140x210Teens today are 40 percent less empathetic than they were thirty years ago. Why is a lack of empathy—along with the self-absorption epidemic Dr. Michele Borba calls the Selfie Syndrome—so dangerous? First, it hurts kids’ academic performance and leads to bullying behaviors. Also, it correlates with more cheating and less resilience. And once children grow up, it hampers their ability to collaborate, innovate and problem-solve—all must-have skills for the global economy. The good news? Empathy is a trait that can be taught and nurtured. UnSelfie is a blueprint for parents and educators who want activate our children’s hearts and shift their focus from I, me, and mine… to we, us, and ours. It’s time to include “empathy” in our parenting and teaching! UnSelfie is AVAILABLE NOW at amazon.com.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is Sensory Friendly at AMC: 12/23 & 12/26

New sensory friendly logoSince 2007, AMC Entertainment (AMC) and the Autism Society have teamed up to bring families affected by autism and other special needs “Sensory Friendly Films” every month – a wonderful opportunity to enjoy fun new 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.

Does 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“.

Families affected by autism or other special needs can view a sensory friendly screening of Star Wars: The Last Jedi on Saturday, December 23rd at 10am and Tuesday December 26th at 7pm (local time). Tickets are typically $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 in January: The Greatest Showman (Tues 1/9); Ferdinand (Sat 1/13); 12 Strong (Tues 1/23); Paddington 2 (Sat 1/27);


Editor’s note: Although Star Wars: The Last Jedi has been chosen by the AMC and the Autism Society as this month’s Sensory Friendly Film, we do want parents to know that it is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for sequences of sci-fi action and violence. 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 family.

How To Simplify Your Family’s Holiday Season

The holidays are always a stressful time of year for me. My parents divorced when I was 12 and my dad remarried when I was 15. Christmas not only stretches old wounds, but has also grown more complicated as I have grown older and added both my birth family and my husband’s family to the equation. Through the years I have come to learn what I need as well as what my families need from me during the holidays. Here are some things I’ve learned that have helped me simplify my holiday season and I hope that they will help you too.

Accept that I’m not going to be able to see everyone: With four families, six siblings, and a step-son it has become fundamental to my peace to not try to see everyone for the winter holidays. Thankfully, my families understand that, so they never make me feel obliged to change my plans.The factors that go into who I choose to spend the holidays with change year by year. When my husband and I first married, it was important to me that I spend Christmas with his family, especially his son. However, this year I’m choosing to spend it with my dad and step-family because my father is getting older (and Christmas is his favorite time of year) and both of my step-siblings will also be in town, so I’ll get to spend time with them as well. I usually share a meal with my mother before or after Christmas so that i’m not trying to make everything happen in one day. Ultimately, who I end up with on the holidays depends on where I can afford to go, which family members will be where, who I spent last year’s holidays with, and where I am most comfortable.

Divide and conquer: I know this one will come across as strange to a lot of people, but my husband and I actually do really well spending holidays apart. Since his family is closer than mine his visit will just be for an afternoon. This leaves me free to make the drive to my families and stay several days without having to worry about our apartment or my dog because I know Nick will be home to look after everything. This takes a lot of the stress of traveling off of me and keeps me from having to rush my trip. It also means that both of our families get to see us, so we aren’t leaving anyone out and we get to bring home food from two different places 😀 Nick and I generally prefer to celebrate one another at different times from the holidays. We don’t have our own celebrations for Christmas or Thanksgiving and prefer to create our own special times throughout the year regardless of the day. We celebrate the holidays for our families and being separate doesn’t bother us as long as our families are happy. After we’ve loved on them, we come back together and start planning for our own next adventure as a couple.

Write letters: I don’t just mean sending people Christmas cards with pics of you and your children or pets. I mean writing real, heartfelt letters. When I know I’m not going to be able to see my whole family I try to put special effort into loving on the ones who I won’t physically be around. I do this with my friends as well. It will ease the distance and let them know that you aren’t neglecting them just because you aren’t coming to see them.

Teamwork makes the dreamwork: Ask for help. Really, it’s okay, I promise. Whether it’s seeking backup because a family member makes you uncomfortable or asking your cousin to hold your toddler or asking your significant other to drive because you are tired, whatever it is, ask. The holidays can be a physical and emotional workload, everyone knows it, but we seem to have trouble talking about it. The more honest we are with one another and the more we communicate our needs the more we can help each other and have a truly beautiful Christmas.

Breathe and create space: The holidays are hard for a lot of people. Planning trips and visits and dinners is a hassle, especially with children. Remember to pay attention to what you as an individual need to not just maintain your peace, but actually enjoy the time of year reserved for family and friend love. Whether it’s sending the kids to bed early so you can enjoy a glass of wine or listening to an audiobook or your favorite music on the drive, go out of your way to do something specifically for you. And don’t forget to rest (you are not obligated to do everything), drink lots of water, and breathe.

Remember, the holidays are supposed to be fun. You are not obligated to buy the most expensive gift or make the most delicious dish or have the most well-behaved children. You are simply there to love on your family and be loved by them. What are you some ways that you deal with holiday stress? Have you come up with your own little tricks and practices to make the holidays simpler? We would love to hear them in the comments section. Happy holidays!