6 Tips to Help Your Child Get Quality Sleep

The right amount of sleep is paramount for your little one’s development both physically and mentally. The duration very much depends on the child’s age. As a rule of thumb the following applies to my five children: between the ages 1 and 2, 11 to 14 hours of sleep, pre-school age (3 to 5 years old) 10 to 13 hours and school children (6 to 13 years old) 9 to 11 hours.

So, why is counting those ZZZ’s so crucial to a child’s growth? One of the things that resonate with parents the most is their child’s mood and learning ability – sleep directly affects it, and none of you want those temper tantrums or phone calls from school because your son or daughter is grouchy and tired.

Sleep is essential to children’s health, influencing your child’s weight, immune system, and overall ability to regenerate and assimilate what they have learned during the day. Another bonus is that your precious offspring will be less accident prone and aware of his or her environment.

Need we go on? It is safe to say that sleep is one of the most important things in your kid’s young life. Here are some tips and tricks to help you on your way.

Choose the right mattress:

You as a parent can have a direct influence on this. Sleeping Guide will help you make the right choice.

So what is important here; what should you consider?

I have found that a pocket-sprung mattress is better suited than the memory foam version. This is because, unlike many adults, children need firmness contrary to an adaptable surface. I assumed that a medium-hard mattress is better for my child’s spinal growth and so far I still need to be proven wrong.

Routine is everything:

I always prefer to have my son and daughter in bed before 9 pm. Also, I created a bedtime routine as a kind of introduction to sleep. My precious little ones automatically understand when their dad or I use the words, “Sweetie, it’s off to bed in half an hour.”

Think of your computer – it also needs a certain amount of time to shut down.

Monitor electronic interference:

Now we have all fallen victim to the so-called benefits of the digital nanny. Let’s face it; our kids love tablets, on-demand TV, and music.

If you have allotted a certain amount of digital playtime, make sure it comes to an end at least an hour before bedtime. Another thing, depending on your child’s age, make sure the usage time does not exceed an hour in the evenings. From my experience too much electronic playtime makes them irritable and excitable – not the ideal recipe to collect those ZZZs.

Reduce stress:

High levels of stress heighten cortisol levels in the body. As a result, your kid will have trouble falling asleep. A small tip here – keep those bedtime activities calm and the house quiet.

Make bedtime special:

I mention this point because the time before bed is the ideal moment for you to make your young one feel loved. You might have a small talk or tell them a story; anything that will detract from our hectic everyday lives and make their voyage to dreamland all the more comfortable.

The right sleeping environment is the way to go:

Letting my kids have a big say in the way we designed their rooms was a huge boon.

Makes sense right? We all sleep better in an environment in which we feel comfortable and safe. Take care of those stuffed animals too; one or two is fine but having a bed full of them is counterproductive. And I always keep lighting to a minimum and make sure that the temperature is not too high or too low.

As a last bit of advice, be mindful and respectful of your child’s fears. It may sound silly to you, but to them, it is vital. A small something like imaginary magic pajamas or a brave teddy bear can go along way in creating peace in their mind.

Kids Need Vitamin D – Can It Be Gotten Safely From Sunlight

Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, and in the UK from around late March/early April to the end of September we get most of our vitamin D from sunlight exposure**. Find out how to get enough without risking sun damage.

We need vitamin D to help the body absorb calcium and phosphate from our diet. These minerals are important for healthy bones, teeth and muscles.

A lack of vitamin D – known as vitamin D deficiency – can cause bones to become soft and weak, which can lead to bone deformities. In children, for example, a lack of vitamin D can lead to rickets. In adults, it can lead to osteomalacia, which causes bone pain and tenderness.

How do we get vitamin D?

Our body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on our skin when we are outdoors. From about late March/early April to the end of September, most people should be able to get all the vitamin D we need from sunlight.

We also get some vitamin D from a small number of foods, including oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines, as well as red meat and eggs.

Vitamin D is also added to all infant formula milk, as well as some breakfast cereals, fat spreads and non-dairy milk alternatives.

The amounts added to these products can vary and may only be added in small amounts. Manufacturers must by law add vitamin D to infant formula milk.

Another source of vitamin D is dietary supplements.

How long should we spend in the sun?

Most people (in the UK**) can make enough vitamin D from being out in the sun daily for short periods with their forearms, hands or lower legs uncovered and without sunscreen from late March or early April to the end of September, especially from 11am to 3pm.

It’s not known exactly how much time is needed in the sun to make enough vitamin D to meet the body’s requirements. This is because there are a number of factors that can affect how vitamin D is made, such as your skin colour or how much skin you have exposed. But you should be careful not to burn in the sun, so take care to cover up, or protect your skin with sunscreen, before your skin starts to turn red or burn.

People with dark skin, such as those of African, African-Caribbean or south Asian origin, will need to spend longer in the sun to produce the same amount of vitamin D as someone with lighter skin.

How long it takes for your skin to go red or burn varies from person to person. Cancer Research UK has a useful tool where you can find out your skin type, to see when you might be at risk of burning.

Your body can’t make vitamin D if you are sitting indoors by a sunny window because ultraviolet B (UVB) rays (the ones your body needs to make vitamin D) can’t get through the glass.

The longer you stay in the sun, especially for prolonged periods without sun protection, the greater your risk of skin cancer.

If you plan to be out in the sun for long, cover up with suitable clothing, wrap-around sunglasses, seeking shade and applying at least SPF15 sunscreen.

Winter sunlight

In the UK, sunlight doesn’t contain enough UVB radiation in winter (October to early March) for our skin to be able to make vitamin D.

During these months, we rely on getting our vitamin D from food sources (including fortified foods) and supplements.

Using sunbeds is not a recommended way of making vitamin D.

Babies and children

Children aged under six months should be kept out of direct strong sunlight.

From March to October in the UK**, children should:

  • cover up with suitable clothing, including wearing a hat and wearing wrap-around sunglasses
  • spend time in the shade (particularly from 11am to 3pm)
  • wear at least SPF15 sunscreen

To ensure they get enough vitamin D, babies and children aged under five years should be given vitamin D supplements even if they do get out in the sun. Find out about vitamin D supplements for children.

Who should take Vitamin D supplements?

Some groups of the population are at greater risk of not getting enough vitamin D, and the Department of Health recommends that these people should take daily vitamin D supplements, to make sure they get enough.

These groups are**:

  • all babies from birth to one year of age (including breastfed babies and formula fed babies who have less than 500ml a day of infant formula)
  • all children aged one to four years old
  • people who are not often exposed to the sun – for example, people who are frail or housebound, or are in an institution such as a care home, or if they usually wear clothes that cover up most of their skin when outdoors

For the rest of the population, everyone over the age of five years (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) is advised to consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms (μg) of vitamin D.

But the majority of people aged five years and above will probably get enough vitamin D from sunlight in the summer (late March/early April to the end of September), so you might choose not to take a vitamin D supplement during these months.

Find out more about who should take vitamin D supplements and how much to take.

You can get vitamin supplements containing vitamin D free of charge if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have a child under four years of age and qualify for the Healthy Start scheme.

You can also buy single vitamin supplements or vitamin drops containing vitamin D for babies and young children at most pharmacies and larger supermarkets.

Speak to your pharmacist, GP or health visitor if you are unsure whether you need to take a vitamin D supplement or don’t know what supplements to take.

Can you have too much vitamin D?

If you choose to take vitamin D supplements, 10μg a day will be enough for most people.

People who take supplements are advised not to take more than 100μg of vitamin D a day, as it could be harmful (100 micrograms is equal to 0.1 milligrams). This applies to adults, including pregnant and breastfeeding women and the elderly, and children aged 11-17 years.

Children aged one to 10 years should not have more than 50μg a day. Babies under 12 months should not have more than 25μg a day.

Some people have medical conditions that mean they may not be able to take as much vitamin D safely. If in doubt, you should talk to your doctor. If your doctor has recommended you take a different amount of vitamin D, you should follow their advice.

The amount of vitamin D contained in supplements is sometimes expressed in international units (IU) where 40 IU is equal to one microgram (1µg) of vitamin D.

There is no risk of your body making too much vitamin D from sun exposure, but always remember to cover up or protect your skin before the time it takes you to start turning red or burn.

Editor’s Note:

** U.S. Resources:

NHS Choices logo

From www.nhs.uk




Child Health & Safety News 4/16: Sesame Street Autism Kickstarter

twitter thumbIn this week’s Child Safety News: YouTube Is Improperly Collecting Children’s Data, Consumer Groups Say nyti.ms/2qmoYNd Under the guise of young kids aren’t legally supposed to be on YouTube Google is collecting data on minors

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 20 events & stories.

  • Mom’s Viral Post Highlights the Possible Dangers of Car Seat Accessories bit.ly/2JKyUca using 3rd party accessories not approved by the car seat mfr – (strap covers, head rests) – can put your baby at risk in an accident! 2018-4-15
  • Hundreds of AAP members urge Congress to protect children from gun violence bit.ly/2JL0Hcs 2018-4-14
  • Researchers To Find Why More Children Have Kidney Stones bit.ly/2ELblwj It’s now more common than diabetes…. 2018-4-14
  • Don’t miss our Twitter Chat this Wednesday, 4/18 at 2 pm EST to raise support for HeadStart and Early Head Start. 2018-4-14
  • What’s the Best Way to Treat Mental Health Problems in Kids? Psychology Today looks at benefits of offering mental and behavioral health intervention in pediatrician’s offices bit.ly/2IX4uCx 2018-4-14
  • Up to 30,000 Flint kids to get screened for effects of lead in their drinking water usat.ly/2IUWvpg 2018-4-14

PedSafe Child Health & Safety News Headline of the Week:
Sesame Street wants to expand its work with autism awareness and is turning to Kickstarter for the first time to help do it bit.ly/2v2iwAF
The campaign will fund an autism initiative to tackle bullying prevention

  • Tomorrow Morning at AMC, Sherlock Gnomes is Sensory Friendly bit.ly/2H9KzDe 2018-4-13
  • Does Daycare Influence How a Child Performs in Grade School? bit.ly/2Hj2FT6 2018-4-13
  • Hand-washing 101: Kill Germs, Don’t Spread Them – Thurs Time Capsule – 04/2011 bit.ly/2GNHdC7 2018-4-12
  • Teens and Tattoos: How to Make Sure Your Teen is Safe bit.ly/2GMejGO 2018-4-7
  • Reading aloud, playing with young children may reduce hyperactivity bit.ly/2qoiZHY 2018-4-11
  • Today is National Heatstroke Prevention Day 2018! bit.ly/2IL7HoK Every year on average 37 children die in hot cars in the U.S. You can help make a difference! 2018-4-11
  • April 1, Anthem health insurance -BCBS in many states – slashed the amount durable medical providers will receive for the breast pumps they provide to mothers from $169 to $95. The pumps mothers can access will be of a lower quality slate.me/2GLz0m9 2018-4-10
  • AdoptUsKids Tips For Supporting A Child With Trauma History 2018-4-10
  • Kids with regular health care less likely to have life-threatening diabetic ketoacidosis bit.ly/2GMZW5b 2018-4-10
  • Musings on “having it all” by a Dr. Mom bit.ly/2qjzpRT 2018-4-9
  • How Important is it to Treat Your Child’s Tooth Decay? bit.ly/2uNaCLi 2018-4-9
  • Tuesday Night at AMC, Ready Player One is Sensory Friendly! bit.ly/2H613fh 2018-4-9

Autism Awareness Month: A Chance to Redefine Disability

April is Autism Awareness Month. For those of us in the special needs trenches this might seem odd because if autism has impacted your life you are always aware of it every minute of every day. The reality is that many people have no idea what autism truly is. They might watch The Good Doctor or Sesame Street, and while it is terrific that autism and other conditions are being represented in mainstream media often these portrayals are flawed or fail to paint the complete picture.

Autism Society defines autism spectrum disorder as a complex developmental disability that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. Dr. Stephen Shore famously said, “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” The spectrum of autism ranges from people with savant skills to people who are nonverbal and enjoy fecal smearing.

Just as the symptoms and challenges vary from person to person, language preferences are also a point of contention. Many people believe in the “person-first” theory of communication, where the individual is considered before their diagnosis because the person is much more than their condition. The best way I heard it explained is that if you had a friend who was diagnosed with cancer you would not refer to them as “my cancerous friend.” You would say “my friend, who has cancer.” So the student is not a special needs child, they are a child with special needs.

Yet some people disagree. Temple Grandin doesn’t mind being called autistic instead of a person with autism. She treasures her autism because it is what makes her mind work the way it does. She claims that in many ways it does define her and she is proud of it.

Now there are movements to alter more phrases and words. Before you describe someone as “suffering with autism” try to observe them first. Are they really suffering, or are they happy and productive in their own way? There is a campaign to “spread the word to end the word” for the “r-word” (retard). Many adults with special needs would prefer that you simply call them disabled because in fact, that is the truth. Another root definition of “dis” means apart or in two ways, so really saying someone is disabled is really another way of saying that they do things differently or in another way.

And really, don’t we all have special needs? I need to have chocolate. My mother needs to have coffee with every freakin’ meal. My son needs to wear socks in the pool. Whatever. These are little things we need to help us get through our daily lives.

So, this April be aware of autism in all of its manifestations and try out some new ways of talking about – and talking to – people with disabilities.

Tomorrow Morning at AMC, Sherlock Gnomes is Sensory Friendly

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. Tomorrow, Sherlock Gnomes is Sensory Friendly at AMC.

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 Sherlock Gnomes on Saturday, April 14th at 10am (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).

Still to Come in April: Rampage (Tues 4/24)


Editor’s note: Although Peter Rabbit 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 by the Motion Picture Association of America for some rude and suggestive humor. 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.

Video: Teens and Tattoos: How to Make Sure Your Teen is Safe

Niall McManus, tattoo artist, discusses things to consider before getting a tattoo and how to do so safely.

Editor’s Note: Video Highlights

Things to know before getting a tattoo:

Do your research

  • Check out your artist’s website to see their style.
    • Make sure it’s what you want.
  • Go to the shop
    • Make sure you’re comfortable the person tattooing you
    • Make sure it’s a reputable shop
      • Every shop and every artist must have a license.
      • They must be displayed on site

Make certain your artist is taking the required safety precautions.

  • Wearing gloves during the whole process.
  • Unwrapping his equipment from the sterilization packages in front of you.
    • Not all artists will do this automatically, but feel free to ask your artist to do so.

Your artist will wrap the finished tattoo in plastic wrap after cleaning it.

  • This should be kept on for two hours.

Tattoos take two (2) weeks to heal.

  • Wash it with warm running water regularly.
  • Do not soak it in water.
  • It is a wound. It will scab. This is normal. Let the scab fall off on its own.
  • Don’t scratch it.
    • If it itches, pat it, don’t scratch it.
    • If you accidentally scratch it, sometimes it can require a touch up.
  • Keep it moisturized
  • If you have any questions about the healing process ask your artist.


Editor’s note: Tattoos are becoming further accepted in society. As they become more popular, more teenagers are getting them. It is important for them (and you) to know how to do it safely if you decide it is something to pursue.

** Resources outside the U.K.:

  • For more information check out the American Academy of Pediatric’s recommendations.


NHS Choices logo

From www.nhs.uk