Get Bugs to Buzz Off And Leave Your Kids Alone This Summer

As far as Kay Klebba is concerned, “summer is for turning cartwheels.” She loves it when her four kids — 15-, 12- and 11-year-old twins — play in the yard of their Shelby Township, Mich., home. Unfortunately, so do the bugs. “We’ve had a really wet spring, and we live right across from a lake. The kids stayed out until just after dark the other night and came in covered with mosquito bites.”

Avoiding the six-legged beasties is next to impossible. “There are about 10 million insect species, and about 75 percent of the world’s animals are insects,” says Tim Forrest, Ph.D., a professor of biology at the University of North Carolina, in Asheville. Most people have a reaction to bites and stings — ranging from barely noticeable bumps to saucer-sized welts. But while you can’t escape bugs altogether, there’s plenty you can do to manage them better.

To Avoid Bugbites …

  • Dress to repel Bright colors and flowery prints make kids more attractive to insects, as do scented soaps, perfumes and hair sprays, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  • Stay out of their way Most bugs will leave humans alone, Forrest says, “unless you mess with their nest.” Steer clear of known nests and avoid areas near trash cans (beloved by yellow jackets,) stagnant water (mosquito heaven) and fruit trees.
  • Squirt on the good stuff For kids, the AAP recommends products with at least 10 percent DEET, to be effective but no more than 30 percent. Spray on only as much as needed to cover skin and clothes, have kids wash with soap and water when they go back inside and wash clothes before wearing again.
  • Make friends with the enemy Children who are excessively frightened by insects tend to overreact and are more likely to be stung. Help your child tap into his curiosity about nature and explore the insect world — on his terms. Watch a spider spinning a web or a bee gathering nectar from a flower. “Just explain that they should be calm and not make any sudden movements,” says Forrest.

How to Handle a Bug Bite or Sting

  • Go on high alert If your child has been stung, check if there’s a stinger left behind. If so, scrape it away — carefully — with a fingernail or knife blade, says Richard F. Lockey, M.D., a professor of Medicine, Pediatrics and Public Health at the University of South Florida. Then wash the area with soap and water, and apply ice to the sting. Watch your child carefully for signs of wheezing or difficulty breathing, tightness in the throat or chest, swelling of the lips, tongue or face, or any dizziness, fainting, nausea or vomiting. While such intense allergic reactions are relatively uncommon — only an estimated 3 percent of adults and 1 percent of children react that way — they can happen within moments. And in rare instances, they can be fatal. If your child has any of these symptoms, head straight to the emergency room.
  • Soothe the sting or bite If there’s no allergic reaction, continue with occasional ice for 24 hours. There are other things you can use to relieve the swelling and discomfort, but there’s no solid proof that any of them work. Still, it’s worth a try. “Cortisone cream helps some people, and so do antihistamines,” says Lockey. Some people find relief with a paste made from baking soda or meat tenderizer and water. Others find that applying aloe vera, calendula leaves and even a slice of onion can help.
  • Keep an eye on it As kids scratch, bites can become infected, and some — like certain spider bites — can leave ugly, ulcerated wounds. “Keep it clean and covered,” says Lockey. “And be patient. While there isn’t much you can do to speed healing, it will go away eventually.”

Kitchen Safety for Families: Do You Know What to Do If…?

Steaming tea kettleTypical, isn’t it? You’re flying between cooktop and cutting board, prepping dinner while the kids finish homework. In a moment of distraction, you grab a scorching saucepan handle or slice the tip of your finger with a paring knife … or the budding young chef in your family does. Whatever the kitchen slipup, chances are the remedy is within arm’s reach, says Dr. Jennifer Avegno, an emergency medicine specialist at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. Here is her advice for treating everyday kitchen injuries.

1. Cuts
Food prep simply can’t happen without a sharp knife or two, not to mention a cheese grater or potato peeler — hence the packet of plastic bandages in every cook’s cabinet. In the event of a cut or abrasion, run plenty of tap water over the wound to rinse out dirt and bacteria — the source of infection — that may have been on the instrument or your skin. (Don’t use hydrogen peroxide: The solution kills contamination but can also destroy the clotting and healing cells the blood carries to the wound). Bleeding will likely stop on its own. If not, apply gentle but steady pressure to the cut with a clean cloth or bandage and keep the wound elevated. After bleeding stops, apply antibacterial ointment, and bandage the cut securely. Seek medical attention if the cut is deep, you can’t get dirt out of the wound or blood spurts from the wound or continues to flow after applying steady pressure for more than five to 10 minutes.

Watch out for swelling or redness. The wound could be infected. See a doctor as soon as possible.

2. Small Burns

We’ve all touched the back of our hand to an oven’s heating element, accidentally placed fingers near hot steam or been splattered with sizzling oil. If the burn covers the palm or crosses over a joint, seek immediate medical attention. The same holds if the burn — even a small one — is on the face. A trip to the doctor may help prevent scarring. Otherwise, you can treat it at home.

First, run the affected area under cool tap water for a few minutes to stop the burning process and remove any bits of burnt skin. Smooth on a layer of antibiotic ointment to create a barrier against infection and wrap loosely with gauze or a small bandage. Be sure to rinse the wound with water and change the dressing twice daily for a few days, says Avegno, so that it remains covered and protected until the scab is gone.

Watch out for increased pain, redness, fever, swelling or oozing. The burn could be infected. See a doctor as soon as possible.

3. Scalds

Burns from scalding water tend to cover larger areas, such as arms, feet, legs and stomach, which may make them harder to treat at home. And if the scalding is to a child, whereby a large percentage of the body is affected, call an ambulance or go to an emergency room immediately. Otherwise, start by treating the affected area the way you would a small burn: run under cool water (or use a wet towel) to stop the burning process and to clean the area, layer with antibiotic ointment, and dress with gauze or a large bandage as best you can. Even a clean and loose-fitting white T-shirt over the burn area will add some protection if you don’t have large enough bandages. Blistering is to be expected, but avoid popping the blisters, as doing so adds entry points for infection. These burns are often more painful than smaller ones, so take acetaminophen or ibuprofen. If that doesn’t block the pain, seek medical care.

Watch out for continued or worsening pain, or signs of infection (see above). In these cases, seek immediate medical attention.

4. Injuries to the Eyes

Lovers of spicy food know the painful power of capsicum, or cayenne pepper: Contact with the eyes causes a strong burning sensation. Flush out any material in the eye with water and then splash milk in the area to stop the burn. Steam, pokes to the eye or spattered oil are more serious and can cause eye damage. Rinse the eye right away to cool the area and clean out debris.

Watch out for pain, oozing or a change in vision after a few minutes of blinking and rinsing, any of which might indicate damage to the cornea. Seek immediate medical attention.

Given the increased risk of infection with cuts and burns, Avegno advises a tetanus shot if you haven’t had one in five to 10 years. Even a shot administered within a day or two after the injury will be effective, she says. Of course, when extreme injuries happen — especially when small children are involved — emergency care is critical for preventing even greater harm.

Food Allergy Fears – It’s Ok For Your Child To Try Something New

Cute little girl sitting in the mother lap and smearing peanut butter on bread.Do you remember the last time that your allergic child tried a new food? If the answer is no, you are not alone. It’s a difficult task for both parents and children with food allergies. There is always the thought of “What if” no matter what the new food is. Every new ingredient, every new spice, every new menu item that your child might want to try to have a larger variety of foods to choose from is seen as a possible threat. The fear is very real and very understandable so how does an allergic family get over this bump in the road?

Always have medications within reach

Even with my second child, I always made sure I had any necessary allergy medications for immediate use when we decided to try a new food. In the past, antihistamines were the first line of action but to date, research and countless food allergy tragedies have proven that this may actually not be the case. First and foremost, having the correct items will ensure that those seconds could be spared. The most typical items that should be on-hand are two doses of epinephrine, some form of antihistamine and an inhaler (if asthmatic or your child has a history of needing a rescue inhaler).

Small or not at all

Our family has made it a habit of trying a small amount of anything new rather than having it as an entire meal. This may seem a like we are being a bit over protective but it makes perfect sense. The smaller the amount of allergic food ingested, the easier it should (hopefully) be to get the reaction under control. If you are allergic to peanuts and wanted to try an almond, would you eat a piece of an almond or an entire loaf of almond bread? Everything in moderation.

Stay together

I have never, ever given my allergic child any new foods and then sent him away or to bed for the night. Ever. If an allergic reaction occurs, you want to be with your child to make sure you can treat them properly, to watch for the specific signs or symptoms that came from that food and you want to show your child that they are not alone in having to deal with food allergies. It’s a silent support system but if you have seen that very distinctive, frightened look in your child’s eyes as they begin to react, you know that the best thing to do would be there with them from start to finish as much as possible.

No Mixing

This is very important! For the sake of your child and to avoid additional food allergy tests, always test out one new food item and no other new foods with that food item for at least three to five days. Will it take a longer time? Yes but you also want to make sure that the sandwich that your child took a bite from doesn’t contain so many possible allergic foods that you will be deeming a handful of foods as unsafe when really, most of them could have been eaten. Trying new foods is to expand your allergic child’s food options, not to limit them further.

Check your phone

Have a telephone ready and waiting. This means having it in your hand, in your pocket, on the table or somewhere that you can use it right away if you need too. Also, make sure it’s fully charged if it’s not a landline. Update your telephone list with current physician information and even print out a list of emergency contacts to have a fast and easy place to access. When an emergency happens you may not have time to think or react so the more you plan to be prepared, the faster you can deal with the situation as needed.

Support your child’s fears either way

As a parent, it is always difficult to know what the best thing to do is, especially when it’s dealing with food allergy concerns. You may feel that if you don’t encourage your child to try new foods that it makes you too laid back. Or, if you insist that your child try a food and they have a reaction, they will remember that event as a negative part of your parenting. Be open and discuss your own fears with your child- let them know that you are fearful to, that there is no way of telling what could happen and that the most important thing for them to know is that you are there with them.

When in doubt, step out

Many food allergy families prefer to do any and all food testing in their physician’s offices. Although this is recommended with most people, this is a personal decision within each family. Only your family can decide if you feel comfortable enough to test out new foods at home rather than under a physician’s watch. Consider all aspects, analyze any previous allergic reactions and make sure you ask your child what he or she also feels most comfortable doing.

New foods may always cause fear but so can many other things in life. Give your child the opportunity to know how many different foods are out in the world and how many they may have never tried had it not been for their food allergies. Teach them that their fears should be about what they don’t know what to expect, not from what they do know. Conquer your foods, conquer your fears but never let either be a part of what stops you from continuing.

Are There Any Safe Apps For Kids To Use?

Parents often are worried about the apps that their kids may be using and for good reason. The problems can come about because of cyberbullying, sexting, sextortion, online porn or a handful of other problems. In an article for Pediatric Safety back in 2019, I shared ways that parents can help keep an eye on what their kids are doing online.

Those methods focused mainly when you know which apps/sites your kids may be using or wanted to know what others were saying about them online. But what happens if your child is using an app that you have expressly forbidden them from using in the first place? Do you trust that your child will resist the temptation to use those apps

Before you answer that question, answer this one: Did you always do what your parents told you to do? This may seem like a cynical point of view, but the reality is that there are very real dangers online. We’ll get to this in a bit.

According to Shawn Henry, the Executive Assistant Director at the FBI, there are 750,000 predators online hunting our children at any given moment. This leads us to ask the question, “Are there any safe apps/sites?”

Quite frankly, the short answer is all apps have at least some risk to them, but some of them are more likely to cause problems than others. It’s not just about being able to trust your own child to do the right thing. The amount of cyberbullying, online porn and other problems seems to be growing, rather than lessening, despite promises from the platforms to do a better job at eliminating inappropriate content/users. In fact, you may be surprised to know that some of the more mainstream apps – the ones we think have the most parental controls in place – are some of the most dangerous. Private groups in Facebook have been known to contain very controversial content and Twitter is filled with nudity and even hard-core pornography. The same is true for Instagram. These are all very popular apps used by kids the world over.

Other apps, like Whisper, don’t even ask users to create a profile (not that they’re reliable) and there are many apps who intentionally introduce strangers to each other.

What it comes down to is that predators will hunt their prey wherever they are. This is true for bullies, trolls, sexual predators and anyone else who is targeting someone. Think about it this way: bank robbers rob banks because that’s where the money is. Predators hunt where their prey is.

And this is not limited to just social media apps. Back in 2018, a story broke in the news about a young girl’s avatar in Roblox being subjected to a virtual rape. This is a game and certainly not a place where most parents would ever expect something like this to happen. But it did.

Parents may monitor their children’s activity online as I suggested in my previous article. However, this isn’t always as straightforward as it may seem. Some apps, in particular those your children know you don’t want them to use, may be hidden on their devices. Also, what can parents do if they aren’t even aware that their child is using an app in the first place?

First, make sure that your child understands that if a parent purchased the phone and pays the monthly service fee, the phone belongs to the adult, even though the child may use it. My wife and I made this perfectly clear to our daughter when she received her first phone. We also made sure that she realized that she had to hand it over if we deemed it necessary.

Checking to see if the child may be using an app that the parents don’t want them to use is not that hard to do. That’s good, because once an app is installed onto a device, it can easily be hidden inside of a “vault” app.

Once a parent has the phone in their possession, simply go to Google Play or the Apple Store and try to download the app in question. If the site gives you the option to install the app, then the device does not already have it installed. However, if the app site/store offers you the option to OPEN the app, then the device already has it installed, even if you can’t find it. The downside to this approach is that you need to check each app individually, but if you search for “vault apps”, it will show you the most popular and chances are, that will limit it to no more than a handful of choices.

The same process can also be helpful for uncovering other problem apps a child might want to use that you hadn’t thought to search for. For example, when looking to see if my own phone had Tik Tok installed using this method, it recommended several other potential apps under as, “You might also like” and “Similar apps” options.

What this Means to Parents

Did you know that one of the first lessons they teach in business schools and in officers’ training in the military is to never give an order that you know can’t or won’t be followed? In today’s world, it’s unrealistic to expect that our children will not be able to go online. I recently got into a discussion online with several parents who felt that parents just need to trust the kids to do the right thing. I wish it were that simple, but if that were true, the number of cybersafety incidents would be nowhere near as high as they really are.

Since parents can’t be with their kids 24/7, one option is to install parental control apps onto their devices that keep track of what the kids do online. Options vary based on many choices, including how much freedom you want to give the child. Some can even prevent a child from installing a certain app or visiting specific websites. Others allow just about everything, but make sure that the parents are informed of questionable behavior/choices.

Some apps are better than others at trying to keep kids safe, but even under the best of circumstances, there’s a limit to how much they can do. Common Sense Media, a great resource for parents, has put together a list of apps that they recommend for families and going over their list, I have never heard of any problems on any of these apps.

Of course, the best option is prevention. Be sure that you speak with your child about what is acceptable and why. Many children fail to see the long-term consequence of their actions. Show them some great examples by looking for #OnlineMeetsOffline in a search engine or on a social media platform. The stories will amuse and amaze you, while others may terrify you.

In the meantime, know what to look for when it comes to potential danger signs that something wrong is happening with your child online. Not all signs are easy to spot and some of them may even be actions that would otherwise deserve a commendation, not make a parent wonder if something is wrong.

Be the ounce of prevention your child needs to make that the cure isn’t needed – ever.

Dental Care During Your Pregnancy: What You Need to Know

We all know that what you eat during pregnancy affects the growth of your baby. Did you also know that what you eat affects the development of your baby’s teeth? Teeth begin to develop between the third and sixth month of pregnancy and what you eat or don’t eat while pregnant can have long lasting affects on your baby’s teeth. It is important to make sure you are getting the nutrients needed to promote healthy teeth for your baby’s future. Those nutrients are calcium, protein, phosphorous, and vitamins A, C, and D.

Another area that expectant mothers should be aware of during pregnancy is the health of your gums. Research suggests that the bacteria that causes inflammation in the gums causing Periodontal Disease (gum disease) can actually get into the mother’s bloodstream and target the fetus, potentially leading to premature labor and low birth weight babies. When plaque builds up on your teeth making your gums red, swollen, and likely to bleed, it is called gingivitis. During pregnancy, your hormone levels rise greatly making your gums more sensitive to gingivitis and it is common to have what is called “gestational gingivitis”. Regular dental visits and cleanings are imperative to keep this condition from progressing into the Periodontal Disease that can be detrimental to your child.

Lastly, there is understandable concern about the amount of radiation a woman is exposed to during pregnancy. It is important to know, however, that the amount of radiation from digital dental x-rays is very low.

It is actually more risky for a pregnant woman to go without necessary dental care than it is to have a dental x-ray. Untreated dental disease and other issues can lead to problems for you and your baby.

When having a dental x-ray during pregnancy, make sure your dentist is using digital x-rays for the lowest amount of radiation exposure. Also, ask to have two lead aprons placed over your belly just as an extra precaution.

During pregnancy it is important to keep up with your dental care, including regular visits to the dentist. If you are ever worried about treatment, x-rays, or a drug prescribed during pregnancy, discuss those concerns with your dentist and physician. It is important to be well informed of all the risks involved with having or postponing dental treatment.