Posts for: October, 2018
As a parent, it’s important to encourage healthy habits, including exercise, in your youngster to help enforce that physical activity becomes as much a part of their routine as eating and sleeping.
Teach your child that sports such as cycling (always with a helmet!), swimming, basketball, jogging, walking briskly, cross country skiing, dancing, aerobics, soccer and other sports when played regularly, are not only fun but also promote health.
Physical activity is important for all children as it helps to:
1. Increase Cardiovascular Endurance
Did you know that more Americans die from heart disease than any other ailment! Physical activity can help improve your child’s fitness, make them feel better and also strengthen their cardiovascular system helping to protect against heart problems.
How you many ask? Aerobic activity can help the heart pump more efficiently, helping to reduce the incidence of high blood pressure. It can also help raise the body’s level of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol that removes excess fats from the bloodstream.
But I thought cardiovascular diseases were thought to be illnesses of adulthood? Fatty deposits have been detected in the arteries of children as young as three years of age and high blood pressure is present in about 5 percent of youngsters, making it important to make physical activity part of your child’s routine from the beginning!
How much activity should my child be getting? It is recommended that children in their middle-years get twenty to thirty minutes of physical activity, at an increased heart rate, at least three times a week. Make certain that each session of exercise is preceded and followed by a gradual warm-up and cool-down allowing muscles, joints and the cardiovascular system to ease into and out of vigorous activity, helping to ensure a safe workout.
2. Improve Large Muscle Strength and Endurance
As physical activity becomes a part of your child’s routine, your child’s muscles with become stronger and they will be able to exercise for longer periods of time, as well as help to prevent future injuries, as strong muscles provide better support for the joints.
What are some exercises my child can do?
Modified sit-ups (knees bent, feet on the ground) can help build up abdominal muscles, increase lung capacity, and protect against back injuries.
Modified pull-ups (keeping the arms flexed while hanging from a horizontal bar)
Modified push-ups (positioning the knees on the ground while extending the arms at the elbow)
3. Increase Flexibility
In order to be well-rounded in terms of physical fitness, children need to be able to twist and bend their bodies through the full range of normal motions without overexerting themselves or causing injury. Although most people lose flexibility as they age, this process can be repressed by maintaining suppleness throughout life, beginning in childhood.
Stretching exercises are the best way to maintain or improve flexibility and should be incorporated into your child’s warm-up and cool-down routine.
How should I instruct my child to stretch? Your child should stretch to a position where they begin to feel tightness but not pain and then hold steady for twenty to thirty seconds before relaxing. Instruct your child not to bounce as they stretch as this can cause injury to the muscles or tendons.
4. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Did you know twelve percent of children in their pre-puberty years are overweight! Physical activity can effectively burn calories and fat and reduce appetite. Ask your provider to help determine whether your child has a healthy percentage of body fat for their age and sex.
5. Reduce Stress
Stress that is unmanaged can cause muscle tightness contributing to headaches, stomachaches and other types of discomfort. Getting your child physically active teaches them to not only recognize stress in their body but also healthy ways to manage it. Exercise is one of the best ways to control stress helping your child to experience less stress-related symptoms than their sedentary peers.
Are There Any New Updates That I Should be Aware of?
The AAP is now recommending that children remain in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat. Previously, the AAP guideline was for children to remain rear-facing until age 2.
How Do I Know my Child’s Car Seat’s Weight and Height Limits?
Check the instruction manual and the labels on a car safety seat to find the manufacturer’s weight and heights limits.
Why is it Important to Keep my Child Rear-Facing?
When children are rear-facing, the head, neck, and spine are all supported by the hard shell of the car safety seat, allowing the car seat to absorb most of the crash forces and protecting the most vulnerable parts of their body. When toddlers are forward-facing, their body is held back by the straps but their heads—which are disproportionately large and heavy—are thrown forward, which can result in spine and head injuries.
Remind Me, What are the Different Types of Rear-Facing Car Seats?
Infant Car Seat (Rear-Facing Only)
- Designed for newborns and small babies, the infant-only car seat is a small, portable seat that can only be used rear-facing. Babies usually outgrow their infant car seats by eight or nine months. When that happens, parents should purchase a convertible or all-in-one car seat and use it rear-facing
- As a child grows, this seat can change from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat with a harness and tether. Because it can be used with children of various sizes, it allows for children to stay in the rear-facing position longer
- This seat can change from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat (with a harness and tether) and to a booster seat as a child grows. Because it can be used with children of various sizes, it allows for children to stay in the rear-facing position longer
But What if my Toddler’s Feet Touch the Back of the Vehicle Seat?
Children can bend their legs easily and will be comfortable in a rear-facing seat. Injuries to the legs are very rare for children facing the rear.
What are Other AAP Recommendations for Car Safety?
Once facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car seat with a harness for as long as possible, until children reach the height and weight limits for their seats. Many seats can accommodate children up to 65 pounds or more.
Different Types of Forward-Facing Car Safety Seats:
- As a child grows, this seat can change from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat with a harness and tether
- As a child grows, this seat transitions from a forward-facing seat with a harness and tether into a booster
- This seat can change from a rear-facing seat to a forward facing seat (with a harness and tether) and to a booster seat as a child grown
- When a child exceeds these limits, a belt-positioning booster seat should be used until the vehicle’s lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly. This is often when they reach 4 feet 9 inches (57 inches) in height and children are 8-12 years of age. Did you know that most children will not fit i a seat belt alone until 10-11 years of age?
Different Types of Booster Seats:
Booster Seat with High Back
- This type of booster seat is designed to boost the child’s height so the seat belt fits properly. It also provides nec
- k and head support and is ideal for ehicles that don’t have head rests or high seat backs
Backless Booster Seat
- Designed to boost the child’s height so the seat belt fits properly. It does not provide head and neck support. It is ideal for vehicles that have head rests
- As a child grows, this seat transitions from a forward-facing seat with a harness into a booster seat
- This seat can change from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat (with a harness and tether) and to a booster seat as a child grows
What is the Difference Between High-Back and Backless Boosters?
Both types of boosters are designed to raise your child so seat belts fit properly, and both will reduce your child's risk of injury in a crash. High-back boosters should be used in vehicles without head rests or with low seat backs. Many seats that look like high-back boosters are actually combination seats. They come with harnesses that can be used for smaller children and, later, removed for older children. Backless boosters are usually less expensive and are easier to move from one vehicle to another. Backless boosters can be used safely in vehicles with head rests and high seat backs.
- Once old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone, children should always use lap and shoulder seat belts for optimal protection.
But How do I Know When an Adult Seat Belt Fits my Child Correctly?
When an adult seat belt fits your child properly:
- The shoulder belt lies across the middle of the chest and shoulder, not the neck or throat
- The lap belt is low and snug across the upper thighs, not the belly
- Your child is tall enough to sit against the vehicle seat back with her knees bent over the edge of the seat without slouching and can comfortably stay in this position throughout the trip
**All children younger than 13 years should be restrained in the rear seats of vehicles for optimal protection.
Commonly Asked Questions
What do I do if my baby slouches down or to the side in the car seat?
- Blanket rolls may be placed on both sides of your infant. A small diaper or blanket may be placed between the crotch strap and your infant too. Do not place padding under or behind your infant or use any sort of car seat inserts unless it came with the seat or was made by the manufacturer of the seat
Why should I dress my baby in thinner layers of clothing before strapping him or her into a car seat?
- Bulky clothing, including winter coats and snowsuits, can compress in a crash and leave the straps too loose to restrain your child, leading to increased risk of injury. Ideally, dress your baby in thinner layers and tuck a coat or blanket around your baby over the buckled harness straps if needed.
Do preemies need a special car seat?
- A car seat should be approved for a baby’s weight. Very small babies who can sit safely in a semi-reclined position usually fit better in rear-facing-only seats. Premature infants should be tested while in the hospital to make sure they can sit safely in a semi-reclined position. Babies who need to lie flat during travel should ride in a car bed that meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213. They should be tested while in the hospital to make sure they can lie safely in the car bed.
Should my child ride in a car seat on the airplane?
- The FAA and the AAP recommend that children less than 40 pounds be securely fastened in certified child restrains when flying. This will help keep them safe during takeoff and landing or in case of turbulence. Most rear-facing, convertible, and forward-facing seats can be used on airplanes, but booster seats and travel vests cannot.
- Look for a label on the car seat that says, “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.” You can also consider using a restraint made only for use on airplanes and approved by the FAA. Larger children may use the airplane seat belt or continue to use their car seat on the airplane as long as it is labeled for use on aircraft and the child has not exceeded the seat’s weight or height limit. Remember that your child will need an appropriate car seat to use at your destination.
What if my car has only lap belts in the back seat?
- Lap belts work fine with rear-facing–only, convertible, and forward-facing seats but can never be used with a booster seat. If your car has only lap belts, use a forward-facing seat that has a harness and higher weight limits.
You could also:
- Check to see if shoulder belts can be installed in your vehicle.
- Use a travel vest (some can be used with lap belts).
- Consider buying another car with lap and shoulder belts in the back seat.
I've seen products that say they can help make the seat belt fit better. Should we get one of these?
- No, these products should not be used. They may actually interfere with proper seat belt fit by causing the lap belt to ride too high on the stomach or making the shoulder belt too loose. They can even damage the seat belt. This rule applies to car seats too; do not use extra products unless they came with the seat or are specifically approved by the seat manufacturer. These products are not covered by any federal safety standards, and the AAP does not recommend they be used. As long as children are riding in the correct restraint for their size, they should not need to use additional devices.
Remember to Never Use a Car Seat That:
Is too old. Look on the label for the date it was made. Check with the manufacturer to find out how long it recommends using the seat.
Has any visible cracks on it.
Does not have a label with the date of manufacture and model number. Without these, you cannot check to see if the seat has been recalled.
Does not come with instructions. You need them to know how to use the seat.
Is missing parts. Used car seats often come without important parts. Check with the manufacturer to make sure you can get the right parts.
Was recalled. You can find out by calling the manufacturer or contacting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888/327-4236. You can also visit the NHTSA website.
Do not use seats that have been in a moderate or severe crash. Seats that were in a minor crash may still be safe to use, but some car seat manufacturers recommend replacing the seat after any crash, even a minor one. The NHTSA considers a crash minor if all the following situations are true:
- The vehicle could be driven away from the crash.
- The vehicle door closest to the car seat was not damaged.
- No one in the vehicle was injured.
- The air bags did not go off.
- You can't see any damage to the car seat.
If you are unsure, call the manufacturer of the seat.
What are some parent resources?
- SeatCheck (or call 866-SEATCHECK [866-732-8243])
- National Child Passenger Safety Certified Technicians (or call 877-366-8154) This site also includes a list of CPSTs fluent in Spanish and other languages or with extra training in transportation of children with special needs
- NHTSA Parents Central http://www.safercar.gov/parents/index.htm
Keep your child safe! Using the right car safety seat or booster seat lowers the risk of death or serous injury by more than 70%!!!
Halloween is an exciting time of year however, as you’re out with your child trick-or-treating, it is important to remember these safety tips to keep the evening a safe and fun night.
When it Comes to Choosing a Costume:
- Pick out costumes that are bright and reflective. Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes or trick-or-treat bags to help with visibility
- Make sure shoes fit well and that costumes are shot enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame
- Consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats rather than masks to prevent limiting or blocking eyesight. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes. Test out makeup ahead of time on a small patch of skin to make sure there are no unpleasant surprises on the big day.
- Look for wigs and accessories that are clearly labeled as flame resistant
- If a sword, cane or stick is part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long to prevent injury if your child stumbles or trips
- Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. While packaging on decorative lenses often claims “one size fits all” or “no need to see an eye specialist,” wearing decorative contact lenses without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal. It can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infection, which can lead to permanent vision loss
- Don’t let small children carve pumpkins. Instead, have them draw a face with markers and then parents can do the cutting
- Instead of using a candle to light your pumpkin, try using a flashlight or glow stick instead. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.
- Keep pumpkins lit by a candles on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects and not on a porch or any path where visitors may pass close by.
- Never leave candlelit pumpkins unattended.
- Remove anything a child could trip over from the porch and front yard such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations
- Check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs
- Sweep wet leaves from sidewalks and steps
- Restrain pets to prevent them from inadvertently jumping on or biting a trick-or-treater
Things to Remember While Trick-or-Treating:
- Review with your child how to call 9-1-1 if they have an emergency or become lost
- Also have a parent or responsible adult accompany young children
- Make sure children and their escorts have flashlights with fresh batteries
- Plan and review a route that is acceptable to you if your older child is going on their own
- Never enter a home or car for a treat
- Only go to homes with a porch light
- Notify law enforcement immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity
- Did you know that pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries sustained by children on Halloween? In order to keep your child safe, remind them:
- Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going
- Remember reflective tape for costumes and trick-or-treat bags
- Carry a cell phone for quick communication
- Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk
- If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic
- Never cut across yards or use alleys
- Only cross a street as a group in an established crosswalk. Never cross between parked cars or driveways.
- Don’t assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing trick-or-treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn’t mean others will!
Healthy Halloween Tips:
- Provide a good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating to help discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats
- Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home such as: coloring books, pens or pencils
- Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Although tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items
- Try to ration treats for the days and weeks following Halloween
Have a safe, healthy and fun Halloween!!