Category: Healthy Living

Choosing Healthy Snacks

If the snacks at your home have usually been cookies, doughnuts, and soft drinks, it’s time for a change. Two or 3 snacks a day are an important part of your child’s overall nutrition, so you need to make them just as nutritionally sound as her regular meals, while contributing to an overall program aimed at weight loss. Planning snacks ahead of time is helpful—prepackage some appropriate servings to have ready for kids in their lunches or when they get home from school. This is an opportunity to teach healthy choices and practices.

If you keep the pantry, refrigerator, and kitchen table stocked with plenty of low-fat, low-sugar snacks from the 5 major food groups, that’s what she’ll reach for. Of course, occasional treats like ice cream are fine. But for those snacks that your child typically grabs on her own, make sure they’re nutritious ones such as:

  • Fruit
  • Fresh strawberries
  • Low-fat/frozen yogurt
  • Air-popped popcorn
  • Celery stalks
  • Low-fat cheeses
  • Low-fat oatmeal cookies
  • Frozen juice bars (without added sugar)
  • Cucumber slices
  • Crackers
  • Frozen bananas
  • Sugar-free cereals
  • Baked potato chips
  • Unsalted pretzels
  • Bran muffins
  • Dried raisins or apricots

Adding a protein food with these snacks can make them more satisfying. Try adding a boiled egg, cheese stick, yogurt, natural peanut butter, or nuts (if your child is old enough so choking is not a concern).

Schedule an Appointment at Petite Pediatrics

Dr. Charish Barry offers concierge-style care that is designed to provide highly personalized care to infants, children, and teens throughout the Santa Barbara area. She and her team of highly trained nurse practitioners will take the time to answer any questions you may have. Schedule an appointment at Petite Pediatrics today! Call our Santa Barbara office at (805) 845-1221.

Sun and Water Safety this Summer

Fun in the Sun

Babies under 6 months:

  • The two main recommendations from the AAP to prevent sunburn are to avoid sun exposure, and to dress infants in lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and brimmed hats that shade the neck to prevent sunburn. However, when adequate clothing and shade are not available, parents can apply a minimal amount of suncreen with at least 15 SPF (sun protection factor) to small areas, such as the infant’s face and the back of the hands. If an infant gets sunburn, apply cold compresses to the affected area.

For All Other Children:

  • The first, and best, line of defense against harmful ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure is covering up. Wear a hat with a three-inch brim or a bill facing forward, sunglasses (look for sunglasses that provide 97% -100% protection against both UVA and UVB rays), and cotton clothing with a tight weave.
  • Stay in the shade whenever possible, and limit sun exposure during the peak intensity hours – between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • On both sunny and cloudy days use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater that protects against UVA and UVB rays.
  • Be sure to apply enough sunscreen – about one ounce per sitting for a young adult.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.
  • Use extra caution near water and sand (and even snow!) as they reflect UV rays and may result in sunburn more quickly.

Heat Stress in Exercising Children

  • The intensity of activities that last 15 minutes or more should be reduced whenever high heat and humidity reach critical levels.
  • At the beginning of a strenuous exercise program or after traveling to a warmer climate, the intensity and duration of exercise should be limited initially and then gradually increased during a period of 7 to 14 days to acclimatize to the heat, particularly if it is very humid.
  • Before prolonged physical activity, children should be well-hydrated and should not feel thirsty. For the first hour of exercise, water alone can be used. Kids should have water or a sports drink always available and drink every 20 minutes while exercising in the heat. Excessively hot and humid environments, more prolonged and strenuous exercise, and copious sweating should be reasons for children to substantially increase their fluid intake. After an hour of exercise, children need to drink a carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage to replace electrolytes lost in sweat and provide carbohydrates for energy.
  • Clothing should be light-colored and lightweight and limited to one layer of absorbent material to facilitate evaporation of sweat. Sweat-saturated shirts should be replaced by dry clothing.
  • Practices and games played in the heat should be shortened and more frequent water/hydration breaks should be instituted. Children should seek cooler environments if they feel excessively hot or fatigued.

Pool Safety

  • Never leave children alone in or near the pool or spa, even for a moment.
  • Install a fence at least 4 feet high around all four sides of the pool.
  • The fence should not have openings or protrusions that a young child could use to get over, under, or through.
  • Make sure pool gates open out from the pool, and self-close and self-latch at a height children can’t reach.
  • If the house serves as the fourth side of a fence surrounding a pool, install an alarm on the exit door to the yard and the pool.
    Keep rescue equipment (a shepherd’s hook – a long pole with a hook on the end – and life preserver) and a portable telephone near the pool. Choose a shepherd’s hook and other rescue equipment made of fiberglass or other materials that do not conduct electricity.
  • Avoid inflatable swimming aids such as “floaties.” They are not a substitute for approved life vests and can give children and parents a false sense of security.
  • Children ages 1 to 4 may be at a lower risk of drowning if they have had some formal swimming instruction. However, there is no evidence that swimming lessons or water survival skills courses can prevent drowning in babies younger than 1 year of age.
  • The decision to enroll a 1- to 4-year-old child in swimming lessons should be made by the parent and based on the child’s developmental readiness, but swim programs should never be seen as “drown proofing” a child of any age.
  • Whenever infants or toddlers are in or around water, an adult – preferably one who knows how to swim and perform CPR – should be within arm’s length, providing “touch supervision.”
  • Avoid entrapment: Suction from pool and spa drains can trap a swimmer underwater. Do not use a pool or spa if there are broken or missing drain covers.  Ask your pool operator if your pool or spa’s drains are compliant with the Pool and Spa Safety Act.  If you have a swimming pool or spa, ask your pool service representative to update your drains and other suction fitting with anti-entrapment drain covers and other devices or systems. See PoolSafely.gov for more information on the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.
  • Large inflatable above-ground pools have become increasingly popular for backyard use. Children may fall in if they lean against the soft side of an inflatable pool. Although such pools are often exempt from local pool fencing requirements, it is essential that they be surrounded by an appropriate fence just as a permanent pool would be so that children cannot gain unsupervised access.

Boating Safety

  • Children should wear life jackets at all times when on boats or near bodies of water.
  • Make sure the life jacket is the right size for your child. The jacket should not be loose. It should always be worn as instructed with all straps belted.
  • Blow-up water wings, toys, rafts and air mattresses should not be used as life jackets or personal flotation devices. Adults should wear life jackets for their own protection, and to set a good example.
  • Adolescents and adults should be warned of the dangers of boating when under the influence of alcohol, drugs, and even some prescription medications.

Open Water Swimming

  • Never swim alone. Even good swimmers need buddies!
  • A lifeguard (or another adult who knows about water rescue) needs to be watching children whenever they are in or near the water. Younger children should be closely supervised while in or near the water – use “touch supervision,” keeping no more than an arm’s length away.
  • Make sure your child knows never to dive into water except when permitted by an adult who knows the depth of the water and who has checked for underwater objects.
  • Never let your child swim in canals or any fast moving water.
  • Ocean swimming should only be allowed when a lifeguard is on duty.

Tips are available in Spanish here.

Schedule an Appointment at Petite Pediatrics

Dr. Charish Barry offers concierge-style care that is designed to provide highly personalized care to infants, children, and teens throughout the Santa Barbara area. She and her team of highly trained nurse practitioners will take the time to answer any questions you may have. Schedule an appointment at Petite Pediatrics today! Call our Santa Barbara office at (805) 845-1221.

Spring Break Safety Tips

Spring break is a great time for the family to get away from the cold, dark days of winter and have some fun in the sun. Keep your family safe while on your trip by following these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Sun Safety for Babies

  • Babies under 6 months of age should be kept out of direct sunlight. Move your baby to the shade under a tree, umbrella or stroller canopy. It is okay to apply a small amount of sunscreen on infants under 6 months if there is no way to avoid the sun.
  • Dress babies in lightweight clothing that covers the arms and legs, and use brimmed hats.

Sun Safety for Kids

  • Choose sunscreen that is made for children, preferably waterproof. Before covering your child, test the sunscreen on your child’s back for an allergic reaction. Apply carefully around the eyes, avoiding eyelids. If a rash develops, talk with your pediatrician.
  • Select clothes made of tightly woven fabrics. Cotton clothing is both cool and protective.
  • When using a cap with a bill, make sure the bill is facing forward to shield your child’s face. Sunglasses with UV protection are also a good idea for protecting your child’s eyes.
  • If your child gets sunburn that results in blistering, pain or fever, contact your pediatrician.

Sun Safety for the Family

  • The sun’s rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Try to keep out of the sun during those hours.
  • The sun’s damaging UV rays can bounce back from sand, snow or concrete; so be particularly careful of these areas.
  • Most of the sun’s rays can come through the clouds on an overcast day; so use sun protection even on cloudy days.
  • When choosing a sunscreen, look for the words “broad-spectrum” on the label – it means that the sunscreen will screen out both ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) rays. Choose a water-resistant or waterproof sunscreen and reapply every two hours.
  • Zinc oxide, a very effective sunblock, can be used as extra protection on the nose, cheeks, tops of the ears and on the shoulders.
  • Use a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15.
  • Rub sunscreen in well, making sure to cover all exposed areas, especially the face, nose, ears, feet and hands, and even the backs of the knees.
  • Put on sunscreen 30 minutes before going outdoors – it needs time to work on the skin.
  • Sunscreens should be used for sun protection and not as a reason to stay in the sun longer.

Use of Tanning Salons

  • The intensity of UVR radiation produced by some tanning facilities can be 10 to 15 times higher than the midday sun.
  • The AAP supports legislation prohibiting access to tanning salons or use of artificial tanning devices by children under 18 years of age.

Beach Tips

  • Drink plenty of water, non-carbonated and non-alcoholic drinks, even if you do not feel thirsty.
  • Stay within the designated swimming area and ideally within the visibility of a lifeguard.
  • Never swim alone.
  • Be aware of rip currents. If you should get caught in a current, don’t try to swim against it. Swim parallel to shore until clear of the current.
  • Seek shelter in case of storm. Get out of the water. Get off the beach in case of lightning.
  • Watch out for traffic – some beaches allow cars.

Schedule an Appointment at Petite Pediatrics

Dr. Charish Barry offers concierge-style care that is designed to provide highly personalized care to infants, children, and teens throughout the Santa Barbara area. She and her team of highly trained nurse practitioners will take the time to answer any questions you may have. Schedule an appointment at Petite Pediatrics today! Call our Santa Barbara office at (805) 845-1221.

Helping Children After A Disaster

A catastrophe such as an earthquake, hurricane, tornado, fire, flood, or violent acts is frightening to children and adults alike. Talking about the event with children can decrease their fear.  It is important to explain the event in words the child can understand, and at a level of detail that will not overwhelm them.

Several factors affect a child’s response to a disaster.  The way children see and understand their parents’ responses are very important. Children are aware of their parents’ worries most of the time, but they are particularly sensitive during a crisis. Parents should admit their concerns to their children, and also stress their abilities to cope with the disaster.  Falsely minimizing the danger will not end a child’s concerns.

A child’s reaction also depends on how much destruction and/or death he or she sees during and after the disaster. If a friend or family member has been killed or seriously injured, or if the child’s school or home has been severely damaged, there is a greater chance that the child will experience difficulties.

A child’s age affects how the child will respond to the disaster. For example, six-year-olds may show their worries by refusing to attend school, whereas adolescents may minimize their concerns, but argue more with parents and show a decline in school performance.

Following a disaster, people may develop Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which is a set of symptoms that can result from experiencing, witnessing, or participating in an overwhelmingly traumatic (frightening) event. Children with this disorder have repeated episodes in which they re-experience the traumatic event. Children often relive the trauma through repetitive play. In young children, upsetting dreams of the traumatic event may change into nightmares of monsters, of rescuing others, or of threats to self or others. PTSD rarely appears during the trauma itself. Though its symptoms can occur soon after the event, the disorder often surfaces several months or even years later.

After a disaster, parents should be alert to these changes in a child’s behavior:

  • Refusal to return to school and “clinging” behavior, including shadowing the mother or father around the house
  • Persistent fears related to the catastrophe (such as fears about being permanently separated from parents)
  • Sleep disturbances such as nightmares, screaming during sleep and bedwetting, persisting more than several days after the event
  • Loss of concentration and irritability
  • Jumpiness or being startled easily
  • Behavior problems, for example, misbehaving in school or at home in ways that are not typical for the child
  • Physical complaints (stomachaches, headaches, dizziness) for which a physical cause cannot be found
  • Withdrawal from family and friends, sadness, listlessness, decreased activity, and preoccupation with the events of the disaster

Professional advice or treatment for children affected by a disaster–especially those who have witnessed destruction, injury or death–can help prevent or minimize PTSD. Parents who are concerned about their children can ask their pediatrician or family doctor to refer them to a child and adolescent psychiatrist for an evaluation.

This article was adapted from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry website; Click here to download and print a PDF version of this document.

Schedule an Appointment at Petite Pediatrics

Dr. Charish Barry offers concierge-style care that is designed to provide highly personalized care to infants, children, and teens throughout the Santa Barbara area. She and her team of highly trained nurse practitioners will take the time to answer any questions you may have. Schedule an appointment at Petite Pediatrics today! Call our Santa Barbara office at (805) 845-1221.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Healthy Eating Habits

Healthy Eating habits taught by The Very Hungry Caterpillar

(NEW YORK) March 8, 2011 – The Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have joined with the best-selling children’s book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and with We Give Books to help families learn about healthy eating habits at home. The Eating Healthy. Growing Strong. campaign is an important part of the Alliance’s mission to combat childhood obesity.

This spring, more than 17,500 pediatrician offices across the United States will receive free copies of specially created The Very Hungry Caterpillar books, together with growth charts and parent handouts that encourage doctors and parents to have meaningful conversations about the importance of healthy eating.

“Parents and doctors both play an enormously important role in ensuring children develop healthy eating habits early on in life. By joining with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the classic children’s brand The Very Hungry Caterpillar, we are starting a dialogue between parents and doctors that will go beyond the waiting room and into the home, enabling 21 million children to make more nutritious choices and lead healthier lives,” said President Bill Clinton, founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation, a founding organization of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation along with the American Heart Association.

In addition to beginning the conversation on healthy eating between pediatricians and parents, the campaign also showcases ways to integrate discussions of healthy active living into family reading time. Tips for parents to discuss healthy active living using The Very Hungry Caterpillar include:

  • Teach your child that apples, pears, plums, strawberries, and oranges are all fruits. Ask them if they can name other fruits.
  • Talk to them about how fruits are good for your body.
  • Talk about how when the caterpillar overeats, he gets a stomachache— so it is important to stop eating when you feel full.

“Parents should read with their children every day, starting when they are babies,” said O. Marion Burton, MD, FAAP, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “This campaign provides a wonderful opportunity to teach children about healthy eating habits at a very young age, while fostering a love of books and language.”

The materials are being provided to the campaign by We Give Books, a digital initiative from Penguin—the publisher of The Very Hungry Caterpillar—and by the Pearson Foundation. Visitors to We Give Books will have the chance to read a library of great children’s books for free, any time they like, and each time they read a book at www.wegivebooks.org, the Pearson Foundation will donate a brand-new book to a leading literacy group.

“I am delighted that the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Pearson Foundation have selected The Very Hungry Caterpillar as a spokescharacter for their important work,” said author and illustrator Eric Carle.  “I’m so pleased that my caterpillar can help to promote healthy eating in the fight against childhood obesity, and I hope The Very Hungry Caterpillar will be a happy reminder for children to grow healthy and spread their strong wings, like the butterfly in my book.”

Don Weisberg, president, Penguin Young Readers Group, said, “We are honored to be part of this important campaign to help educate young children and their families about healthy eating using one of the most beloved and recognized children’s book characters of all time, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”

Mark Nieker, president of the Pearson Foundation added, “We Give Books is ready to share news of this important initiative with young people and parents across the country. Parents can talk about the importance of healthy eating—and help their kids develop important literacy skills—at the same time.”

For additional campaign information, click here.

Schedule an Appointment at Petite Pediatrics

Dr. Charish Barry offers concierge-style care that is designed to provide highly personalized care to infants, children, and teens throughout the Santa Barbara area. She and her team of highly trained nurse practitioners will take the time to answer any questions you may have. Schedule an appointment at Petite Pediatrics today! Call our Santa Barbara office at (805) 845-1221.

Encouraging Physical Activity

All children need physical activity on a regular basis to grow up healthy in every way. But what physical activities are best for your child? Here’s how to make the choices that make the most sense for your youngster.

When cold, rainy weather prompted my 2-year-old son and me to stay indoors for days on end, Finn whipped through the house like a tornado. Puzzles, books, crayons, and cars were everywhere. The dog and cats were exhausted from being chased all day, and my energy was drained from keeping up with everyone. In other words, all was well in our active home.

If this scene sounds familiar, now is an excellent time to start fostering your child’s natural tendencies to run, jump, tumble, and in general, play harder than ever. The prevailing recommendation is for all children and adolescents to participate in some form of physical activity for at least 60 minutes every day.

As chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness, Teri McCambridge, M.D., FAAP, contributed to the organization’s policy on active healthy living. She says, “[That] does not need to be continuous exercise, but rather bouts of exercise.”

Practical Matters

Promoting an active lifestyle is the ideal way to encourage healthy habits that last a lifetime. Meeting our children’s physical needs also fits right into the fold of working towards their total well-being.

“Physical activity is important in the development of stronger muscle and bone density,” says Eric Small, M.D., FAAP, clinical assistant professor of pediatrics, orthopedics, and rehabilitation medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. “It’s especially important for kids to exercise in order to promote heart and lung fitness, not only to regulate obesity, but also to prevent diabetes and cholesterol in children with a genetic disposition to those health problems.”

Estimates place more than 15 percent of the American children in the category of obese, and up to 80 percent of these will remain obese as adults.

Dr. Small, who also serves on AAP’s Council of Sports Medicine and Fitness, points out the boost in brain function as another benefit of getting children to participate in at least 20 to 30 minutes of vigorous activity each day.

“Studies show that IQ will suffer if a person is not active during his or her first five years, so we’re really talking about physical and intellectual development,” he says.

Ages and Stages

Attention span, motor skills, and emotional maturity are significant factors to consider before jumping into a new routine.

“It needs to be age appropriate,” says Dr. McCambridge, who is also an assistant professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

“Children under the age of 7 to 8 have not fully developed their hand eye coordination or balance, so their exercise should be on flat surfaces, with few directions, and should not require a lot of complex maneuvers.”

Both AAP and the Mayo Clinic offer excellent general guidelines for age-appropriate activities:

  • Toddlers (ages 2 to 3): Supervised, unstructured play should allow him to explore a variety of safe environments. Watch him master basic movement as he runs, walks, swings, tumbles, and swims.
  • Preschoolers (ages 4 to 6): She can walk greater distances, and also runs, dances, jumps rope, and plays ball with improved motor skills. Supervise playtime and keep it mostly unorganized. Introduce some structure through games like tag or hopscotch.
  • Elementary school (ages 7 to 9): Walking, running, playground time, gymnastics, and biking are popular for this age group, along with simple organized activities such as miniature golf. He can handle more sophisticated movement patterns while incorporating advanced visual tracking and balance. Let your child participate in a beginning team sport so long as it’s enjoyable, flexible, and low-pressure.

While supervision is essential for safety reasons, it’s also a great way to show your support and interest. Plus, spending time as an observer will allow you to evaluate whether or not to increase the challenge. “I think oftentimes the child will tell you or you will notice their need to progress when they get bored,” says Dr. McCambridge. “However, I think it is important for parents to realize the importance of success. So sometimes holding a child back in the age appropriate group and allowing a child to excel will help with his confidence level.”

The “You” in Youthful

Fun is the name of the game for all kids. Pressure to participate in activities that don’t match a child’s interests and skills, or trying to enforce mandatory “exercise” rather than play, can easily sap the joy out of physical activity.

Dr. Small, who is the founder and director of Family Sports Medicine & Fitness of Westchester, in Mount Kisco, N.Y., emphasizes joy as the key to long-term success. “The child completely loses natural interest if an activity is too structured. If it’s fun for them, they’re going to want to do it more.”

It’s likely that you will draw inspiration from your natural surroundings and by watching other parents, in addition to trying variations on your own favorite sports and activities. Children relate to their care providers’ enthusiasm and you can bet they will follow the lead.

Choosing the right activity will be an ongoing process of trial-and-error as you uncover the individual preferences of your child. The intuition you have developed as a parent along with routine observation will help you figure out the best way to keep your youngster healthy and active.

Quick Tips: Motivation

Give your child a gentle nudge off the couch with some tips from the experts (the AAP):

  • Lead by example: Your activity level sets a powerful example in the home. Parents who make exercise a priority in their own lives will significantly increase the chance that family members will do the same.
  • Get involved: Participating in family games and activities makes for solid bonding time — and the stuff of good memories. Sharing enthusiasm and a light-hearted challenge will get them moving; having fun will keep them moving.
  • Limit screen time: Restrict to two hours a day the number of hours your child is allowed to watch TV, play video games, and use the computer. Interactive video games that require the player to perform dance or sports moves can ease the blow of stricter guidelines and help kids transition from low to moderate levels of activity while in a somewhat private setting.
  • Hang loose: Keep the emphasis on fun and enjoyment. The more flexible you can be, the more your child will feel a sense of choice and control.
  • Eat well: Make the most of the benefits of physical activity by providing good nutrition and well-balanced meals at home.
  • Spread the word: Share your expectations with grandparents, teachers, and other caretakers to help reinforce healthy activities when your child is away from home.

Team Sports

Around the time children turn 10 years old, most have a refined understanding of tactics and strategies. The ability to understand verbal instruction and what their own senses tell them makes this age group prime for entering organized activities and team sports. Middle-school kids become even better candidates for team players as they age and become more social. It’s an exciting time for parents just as much as kids, but consider the practicalities before signing up.

  • Body type: Height, weight, and strength are serious contenders when it comes to reducing risk of injuries. Look for groups that are arranged by skill versus age.
  • Emotional maturity: The ability to handle ups and downs of competition, stick to routine, endure physical stress, and display sportsmanship are essential for a winning situation.
  • Cost: Equipment, uniforms, initiation fees, transportation, and medical care really add up. It’s not worth the expense if the strain on your budget creates stress at home, or if your child decides to try a new sport mid-season.
  • Leadership: Team with an instructor or coach whose experience, attitude, and values meet your approval.

This article was featured in Healthy Children Magazine. To view the full issue, click here.

Schedule an Appointment at Petite Pediatrics

Dr. Charish Barry offers concierge-style care that is designed to provide highly personalized care to infants, children, and teens throughout the Santa Barbara area. She and her team of highly trained nurse practitioners will take the time to answer any questions you may have. Schedule an appointment at Petite Pediatrics today! Call our Santa Barbara office at (805) 845-1221.

Make Valentines Day Everyday

Happy Valentine’s Day from Petite Pediatrics

 

To help you celebrate, here are 14 ways to show love for your child this Valentine’s Day.

1.    Use plenty of positive words with your child. Try to avoid using sarcasm. Children often don’t understand it, and if they do, it creates a negative interaction.
2.    Respond promptly and lovingly to your child’s physical and emotional needs and banish put-downs from your parenting vocabulary. Be available to listen to your child when he/she want to talk with you even if it’s an inconvenient time.
3.    Make an extra effort to set a good example at home and in public. Use words like “I’m sorry,” “please,” and “thank you.”
4.    When your child is angry, argumentative or in a bad mood, give him a hug, cuddle, pat, secret sign or other gesture of affection he favors and then talk with him about it when he’s feeling better.
5.    Use non-violent forms of discipline. Parents should institute both rewards and restrictions many years before adolescence to help prevent trouble during the teenage years. Allowing children of any age to constantly break important rules without being disciplined only encourages more rule violations.
6.    Make plans to spend time alone with your young child or teen doing something she enjoys. Send a Valentine’s Day card to your older child or teen. Make Valentine’s Day cards together with your preschool or younger school age child.
7.    Mark family game nights on your calendar so the entire family can be together. Put a different family member’s name under each date, and have that person choose which game will be played that evening.
8.    Owning a pet can make children, especially those with chronic illnesses and disabilities, feel better by stimulating physical activity, enhancing their overall attitude, and offering constant companionship.
9.    One of the best ways to familiarize your child with good food choices is to encourage him to cook with you. Let him get involved in the entire process, from planning the menus to shopping for ingredients to the actual food preparation and its serving. It is wonderful when families eat together as much as possible. Good food, good conversations.
10.    As your child grows up, she’ll spend most of her time developing and refining a variety of skills and abilities in all areas of her life. You should help her as much as possible by encouraging her and providing the equipment and instruction she needs. Start reading to your child beginning at six months. Avoid TV in the first two years, monitor and watch TV with your older children and use TV time as conversation time with your children. Limit computer and video games.
11.    Your child’s health depends significantly on the care and guidance you offer during his early years. By taking your child to the doctor regularly for preventive health care visits, keeping him safe from accidents, providing a nutritious diet, and encouraging exercise throughout childhood, you help protect and strengthen his body.
12.    Help your child foster positive relationships with friends, siblings and members of the community.
13.    One of your most important gifts as a parent is to help your child develop self-esteem. Your child needs your steady support and encouragement to discover his strengths. He needs you to believe in him as he learns to believe in himself. Loving him, spending time with him, listening to him and praising his accomplishments are all part of this process.
14.    Don’t forget to say, “I love you” to children of all ages!

Schedule an Appointment at Petite Pediatrics

Dr. Charish Barry offers concierge-style care that is designed to provide highly personalized care to infants, children, and teens throughout the Santa Barbara area. She and her team of highly trained nurse practitioners will take the time to answer any questions you may have. Schedule an appointment at Petite Pediatrics today! Call our Santa Barbara office at (805) 845-1221.

Changing Parental Behavior May Help Obese Kids Lose Weight

Young children of parents who took classes in nutrition, exercise kept weight off for 2 years

According to study findings reported in the February issue of Pediatrics, it’s hard to help overweight children lose weight, and keeping it off over the long-term is even tougher. But obese children whose parents took classes on the importance of healthy eating and exercise lost weight and kept it off for the next two years, according to a new Australian study.

Researchers said the study shows that targeting parents — rather than the children — can help stave off weight gain in children aged 5 to 9.

“We believe it makes developmental sense to involve only parents,” said lead study author Anthea Magarey, a senior research associate of nutrition and dietetics, at Flinders University School of Medicine in Adelaide, Australia, where the study took place. “It takes the stigma away from the child and supports a whole family approach.”

For young children, parents play a huge role in their eating and exercise habits, Magarey explained. The kids are still spending most of their time at home and eating most meals at home. Parents buy and prepare food, and decide what and how much kids can eat. They are responsible for providing opportunities for children to be active and can set rules for TV and video game use.

The researchers enrolled mostly mothers of 169 moderately obese or overweight children aged 5 to 9 years in a six-month “healthy lifestyle” course, in which parents were taught about portion size and reading nutrition labels, being a good role model for their children and setting limits. (Half of the parents also took a parenting course, although the study authors found little difference between the two groups).

At the end of six months, children’s body mass index (a measurement that takes into account weight and height) dropped an average of 10 percent, as did their waist circumference. Eighteen months later, the children had kept the weight off, the investigators found.

In the United States, about 17 percent of children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 years are obese, a number that has been increasing since the 1970s, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 24 percent of U.S. children aged 2 to 5 are overweight, meaning they have a BMI in the 85th percentile or above for their height and age. That number rises to 33 percent among children aged 6 to 11, according to the CDC.

After the healthy lifestyle sessions, parents said they felt more comfortable saying “no” to their children’s demands, setting limits on the type of food the children could eat, limiting the amount of time they spent watching TV or playing video games, and establishing consequences for breaking the rules.

Parents assessed their own current eating patterns and set their own goals for change, such as limiting TV to no more than two hours a day, doing more active family activities and making small dietary changes that can go a long way, such as eating more fruit and vegetables, using reduced-fat dairy products and drinking fewer sweetened beverages such as sodas.

Kathy Kolasa, a professor of nutrition services and patient education at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., said she does not believe children have to be excluded from obesity prevention programs because of the risk of stigmatizing them.

But making sure parents know about nutrition, portion size and how to make sure their children are getting enough physical activity is critical.

“In my experience, there are plenty of parents who tell me they know what to feed their kids and that they are eating healthy,” Kolasa said. “When we analyze their diet, they are surprised that they are not following or providing age-appropriate portions and healthy foods for their kids.”

As for the parents included in the study, their weight did not change over the two years.

SOURCES: Anthea Magarey, Ph.D., senior research associate, nutrition and dietetics, Flinders University School of Medicine, Adelaide, Australia; Kathryn M. Kolasa, Ph.D., R.D., professor, nutrition services and patient education, East Carolina University, Greenville, N.C.; February 2011, Pediatrics

Schedule an Appointment at Petite Pediatrics

Dr. Charish Barry offers concierge-style care that is designed to provide highly personalized care to infants, children, and teens throughout the Santa Barbara area. She and her team of highly trained nurse practitioners will take the time to answer any questions you may have. Schedule an appointment at Petite Pediatrics today! Call our Santa Barbara office at (805) 845-1221.

Being Optimistic Is Good For Your Health

Being optimistic does make a difference in teen mental health and behavior, especially against the onset of depressive symptoms.

In the study, “A Prospective Study of the Effects of Optimism on Adolescent Health Risks,” published in the February 2011 issue of Pediatrics (published online Jan. 10), study authors assessed 5,634 students aged 12 to 14 years over three years on optimistic thinking style, emotional problems, substance use and antisocial behaviors.

Levels of optimism in boys remained stable but in girls there were marked falls in optimism across the study. At any given time optimistic teens were doing much better in terms of health risks. Most importantly, risks for the later onset of depression in adolescents who reported high levels of optimism were almost half those of the least optimistic. Optimism was also protective against the onset of substance abuse and antisocial behaviors such as theft, interpersonal violence and property damage.

The authors found that although optimism is protective against adolescent health risks it is not a panacea. Preventive interventions will also need to address other aspects of psychological and interpersonal functioning as well as the social circumstances in which younger teens are growing up.

Schedule an Appointment at Petite Pediatrics

Dr. Charish Barry offers concierge-style care that is designed to provide highly personalized care to infants, children, and teens throughout the Santa Barbara area. She and her team of highly trained nurse practitioners will take the time to answer any questions you may have. Schedule an appointment at Petite Pediatrics today! Call our Santa Barbara office at (805) 845-1221.

New Year Resolutions Can Be For Kids Too

The following New Year tips are from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Preschoolers

  • I will clean up my toys and put them where they belong.
  • I will brush my teeth twice a day, and wash my hands after going to the bathroom and before eating.
  • I won’t tease dogs or other pets – even friendly ones. I will avoid being bitten by keeping my fingers and face away from their mouths.

Kids, 5- to 12-years-old

  • I will drink 2% milk and water three times each day, and limit soda and fruit drinks to once each day.
  • I will apply sunscreen before I go outdoors on bright sunny days. I will try to stay in the shade whenever possible and wear a hat and sunglasses, especially when I’m playing sports.
  • I will try to find a sport (like basketball or soccer) or an activity (like playing tag, jumping rope, dancing or riding my bike) that I like and do it at least three times a week!
  • I will always wear a helmet when bicycling.
  • I will wear my seat belt every time I get in a car. I’ll sit in the back seat and use a booster seat until I am tall enough to use a lap/shoulder seat belt.
  • I’ll be nice to other kids. I’ll be friendly to kids who need friends – like someone who is shy, or is new to my school.
  • I’ll never give out personal information such as my name, home address, school name or telephone number on the Internet. Also, I’ll never send a picture of myself to someone I chat with on the computer without my parent’s permission.

Teens, 13-years-old and up

  • I will eat at least one fruit and one vegetable every day, and I will limit the amount of soda I drink to one glass daily.
  • I will take care of my body through physical activity and nutrition.
  • I will choose non-violent television shows and video games, and I will spend only one to two hours each day – at the most – on these activities.
  • I will help out in my community – through volunteering, working with community groups or by joining a group that helps people in need.
  • When I feel angry or stressed out, I will take a break and find constructive ways to deal with the stress, such as exercising, reading, writing in a journal or discussing my problem with a parent or friend.
  • When faced with a difficult decision, I will talk about my choices with an adult whom I can trust.
  • When I notice my friends are struggling or engaging in risky behaviors, I will talk with a trusted adult and attempt to find a way that I can help them.
  • I will be careful about whom I choose to date, and always treat the other person with respect and without coercion or violence. I will expect the same good behavior in return.
  • I will resist peer pressure to try drugs and alcohol.
  • I agree not to use a cell phone or text message while driving and to always use a seat belt.

Schedule an Appointment at Petite Pediatrics

Dr. Charish Barry offers concierge-style care that is designed to provide highly personalized care to infants, children, and teens throughout the Santa Barbara area. She and her team of highly trained nurse practitioners will take the time to answer any questions you may have. Schedule an appointment at Petite Pediatrics today! Call our Santa Barbara office at (805) 845-1221.

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