Category Archives: Parenting

Tell us why your child’s school year will be amazing

Share a picture of your child's first day of school, and he or she could be our Student of the Day.

Share a picture of your child’s first day of school, and he or she could be our Student of the Day and featured on our Facebook cover image.

For kids and parents, the first day of school is one of the most amazing days of the year. It’s the day when we all dream about the year ahead, about what kids will learn and experience. On our Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram, share with us a photo of your child going back to school, along with their grade, let us know why this school year will be amazing, and he or she could be featured on our Facebook cover image as the Student of the Day.

Click on, save and print out our school year signs below and snap a photo of your child on the first day of school. Then share! #Back2School

backtoschool_print_preschool_white

backtoschool_print_preschool

backtoschool_print_kindergarten-year_white

backtoschool_print_kindergarten

backtoschool_print_1st-grade_whitebacktoschool_print_1st-grade

backtoschool_print_2nd-grade_white backtoschool_print_2nd-grade

backtoschool_print_3rd-grade_white backtoschool_print_3rd-grade

backtoschool_print_4th-grade_white

backtoschool_print_4th-grade

backtoschool_print_5th-grade_white backtoschool_print_5th-grade

backtoschool_print_6th-grade_white backtoschool_print_6th-gradebacktoschool_print_blank-grade_white backtoschool_print_blank_grade

backtoschool_print_blank-year_white backtoschool_print_blank_year

Back-to-school sleep tips: Getting kids’ sleep habits back on track

(iStock photo)

Once the school sleep schedule is set, keep that same sleep-wake schedule seven days a week. (iStock photo)

Karen Johnson, APRN, CNP

Summer is winding down, and the new school year is just around the corner. As we start to prepare students for going back to school, it is important to adjust to a regular sleep routine. Transitioning from a carefree summer schedule to a school schedule can be difficult. An adequate amount of sleep is beneficial to help your child be successful during the school day. Here are a few key tips that will to help your child ease into his/her school sleep schedule:

  1. About two weeks before school starts, begin to put your child to bed 15-30 minutes earlier and as well as waking him or her earlier; working toward a school wake time as the goal.
  2. Once the school sleep schedule is set, keep that same sleep-wake schedule seven days a week. Your child will be more alert and function better on a consistent sleep schedule.
  3. School-age children should avoid afternoon naps as this will disrupt the nighttime sleep schedule.
  4. No screen time 90 minutes before bed; this includes all electronic devices. The light from these devices keeps your child alert and awake at bedtime.
  5. subscribe_blogEstablish a relaxing and structured bedtime routine such as one to two books, a song and hug goodnight.
  6. Eat a healthy snack before bed and avoid caffeine.
  7. Make the sleep environment dark, comfortable and cool.
  8. Dim the lights in the evening before bedtime to promote sleepiness.
  9. Use bright light in the morning to wake easier: sunlight is the brightest source, so open the curtains and turn on a light.
  10. Provide your child with the opportunity to get the adequate amount of sleep to feel alert and refreshed for the school day.

Contact the Children’s Sleep Center at (651) 220-6258 for a sleep evaluation if you have concerns about your child’s sleep.

Sleep duration recommendationsKaren Johnson, APRN, CNP, is a certified nurse practitioner at the Children’s Sleep Center at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

Define safe boundaries for kids and play

Encouraging the learning and exploration process will increase your child’s confidence and creativity, and defining safe boundaries and rules will keep you both happy. (iStock photo / Getty Images)

Encouraging the learning and exploration process will increase your child’s confidence and creativity, and defining safe boundaries and rules will keep you both happy. (iStock photo)

Dex Tuttle

One time I watched my toddler daughter, Quinnlyn, as she played with her favorite blocks. She picked one up, stacked it carefully on top of another, and repeated until she had a tower four or five blocks high. Without warning, she pummeled the tower while sounding her signature high-pitched battle cry, sending blocks flying in all directions. She immediately seemed to regret not having a tower and ran to pick up the blocks to start the process over.

Young children begin to understand their world by cause-and-effect experimentation. Psychologist Jean Piaget was one of the first to put this concept into organized thought.

This behavior is apparent with my daughter: “If I stick my hand in the dog’s water dish, my shirt gets wet. This pleases me and I must do this each morning, preferably after mommy helps me put on a clean shirt.”

Then, something occurred to me as I watched Quinnlyn build and destroy her tower; there is a trigger missing in her young mind that could change her behavior: She does not understand consequence, the indirect product of an effect.

I began to notice this in her other activities as well. At dinnertime, we would give her a plastic fork and spoon so she could work on her motor skills. If she was unhappy with how dinner was going, she threw her fork and spoon on the floor in a fit of toddler rage. She was then immediately puzzled by how to continue her meal with her utensils so far away.

subscribe_blogAs frustrating as toddler tantrums sometimes can be for parents, I would’ve loved to have been in my daughter’s shoes. Who wouldn’t want the satisfaction of taking all those dirty dishes that have been in the sink for two days and chucking them against the wall? That decision, of course, would be dangerous and reckless, and I have no desire to clean up such a mess. And, with no dishes in the house, I’d be forced to take a toddler to the store to shop for breakable things; not a winning combination.

There’s an important lesson here for safety minded parents: Kids will explore their environment in whatever way they can. It’s like the feeling you get when you find a $20 bill in the pocket of a pair of pants you haven’t worn in months, or when you discover the newest tool, gadget or fashion. For toddlers (and us adults), it’s fun finding new things and learning new skills; it’s motivating and creates a feeling of accomplishment. However, the cognitive skills of a toddler haven’t developed beyond that cause-effect understanding.

This is why we need to consider the environment in which our young children play. I recommend giving them plenty of space and opportunity to experiment without worry of the consequence:

  • Make sure stairs are blocked off securely and unsafe climbing hazards are eliminated; encourage kids to explore the space you define.
  • Create a space to explore free of choking hazards, potential poisons and breakable or valuable items; leave plenty of new objects for children to discover, and change the objects out when the kids seem to grow tired of them.
  • Allow children to fail at certain tasks; be encouraging and positive without intervening as they try again.
  • If possible, discuss their actions and consequences with them to help them understand the reason for your rules.

Encouraging the learning and exploration process will increase your child’s confidence and creativity, and defining safe boundaries and rules will keep you both happy.

At Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, we care for more pediatric emergency and trauma patients than any other health care system in our region, seeing about 90,000 kids each year between our St. Paul and Minneapolis hospitals. Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis is the area’s only Level I pediatric trauma center in a hospital dedicated to only kids, which means we offer the highest level of care to critically injured kids. When it’s critical, so is your choice – Children’s Level I Pediatric Trauma Center, Minneapolis.

Dex Tuttle is the injury prevention program coordinator at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota and the father of a curious and mobile toddler. He has a Master of Education degree from Penn State University.

Don’t leave kids in the car

Cracking a window does little to reduce the heat inside a car. Never leave your child unattended in the car. (iStock photo / Getty Images)

Cracking a window does little to reduce the heat inside a car. Never leave your child unattended in the car. (iStock photo)

Dex Tuttle

I’ve often surprised myself by how forgetful I am as a parent. It’s possible I’m the only dad who has nearly forgotten that his daughter needs to eat and, more specifically, that he’s responsible for making sure that happens. I know for a FACT, however, that I’m not the only dad who has forgotten the diaper bag in the car and been forced to speed-run the grocery shopping to get a stinky child out of the store as fast as possible. On tired days after sleepless nights, I’ve forgotten that my keys are in the ignition of the car I’m driving and seriously debated being late for work to turn around and go get them.

I’m exposing a vulnerable part of myself a little when I admit this type of fault, but I know I’m not alone. As the injury prevention program coordinator at Children’s, I feel even more responsible to be mistake-free in providing a safe environment for my child, and I feel that much more silly when I fail to do so.

subscribe_blogWhen my daughter, Quinnlyn, was learning to walk, she pulled herself up on me as I sat in my “dad chair” in the living room. (I’ll admit, realizing that the recliner was a crucial part of fatherhood was a huge part of my excitement for becoming a dad, but I digress.) She grabbed my hands and smiled at her accomplishment. After a few happy moments, she started to turn and walk away, and I forgot that she wasn’t yet able to stand on her own. I let go of her hands and down she went, flat on her back. Thankfully, she was OK. She actually laughed it off (her reaction to near-injury that would soon give me anxiety) and got herself back up.

So far, my follies have been rather benign. Still, I live in eternal fear of finding myself in that vulnerable, forgetful moment when something more serious happens.

As the summer ramps into full swing, one such mistake I’m determined NOT to make is forgetting Quinn in the car. This can happen for one of two reasons: we don’t realize the danger, or we find ourselves in a moment of distraction and leave out one extremely hypimportant detail.

Let me first convince you that this is extraordinarily dangerous:

  • Children have lower water reserves, so their body temperatures rise three to four times faster than an adult.
  • The temperature inside a car can rise 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit every 15 minutes (on a 70-degree day, the temperature inside a car can reach 116 degrees).
  • Since 1998, more than 580 children in the United States have died from being left in vehicles.
  • In car seats, children are insulated, making it more difficult for their bodies to regulate overheating.
  • Signs of hyperthermia set in when body temperature reaches just 100.9 degrees, which children will surpass in only a matter of minutes; internal organs can begin to fail at 104 degrees, and death can occur when body temp reaches 107.
  • Cracking a window does little to reduce the heat inside a car.

On most days, strapping my daughter into her car seat easily could be the final challenge on a reality game show that tests strength, patience and fortitude. Therefore, I’m admittedly hesitant to take her in and out of the car more than I need. However, you never know what will happen; on an average day, there are so many things that are out of your control and could delay a quick stop or create catastrophic failure of your car’s air conditioning. Please take control of what you can and never, ever leave your child unattended in the car.

But as I’ve already admitted, I’m forgetful. Here are some tips on making sure you don’t forget your most-precious package:

  • Place an important item in the backseat. My recommendation is to leave your phone there – thus removing a major distraction while driving – but it can be a purse, wallet, computer, jacket or any other item you know you’ll need when you arrive at your destination.
  • If you don’t carry items often and you drive a car with an automatic transmission, take the shoe off the foot you don’t use for the pedals and put it in the back seat. This can be a fun game where everyone in the family participates.
  • Leave yourself a note on the dashboard: “BABY IN BACK!”
  • Put a stuffed animal or doll in the car seat when your child isn’t in it. When you strap your kid in for a trip, put the stuffed animal in the seat next to you up front – a reminder that something is out of place.
  • If you have a GPS-enabled device, set location reminders when arriving at your favorite locations – the grocery store, work, restaurants, etc. Kars 4 Kids is developing an app that works with your car’s Bluetooth capabilities to remind you as you walk away from the vehicle.

Make arrival habits

  • Always do a walk-around of your vehicle to ensure you’re a safe distance from other hazards and make note of items that will help you remember where you parked.
  • Always use the passenger-side doors to load and unload for trips. This will force you to walk around the car to collect your items.
  • Make a game with your child where you always sing a song, say a phrase, do an activity each time you stop at a destination. Even if your child is sleeping, the habit will keep your mind thinking about the little person in the backseat.

Other resources

Dex Tuttle is the injury prevention program coordinator at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

6 tips for safe fireworks use on Fourth of July

For many families, the Fourth of July celebration includes fireworks. It's important to take the proper safety measures when using fireworks (iStock photo / Getty Images)

For many families, the Fourth of July celebration includes fireworks. It’s important to take the proper safety measures when using fireworks (iStock photo)

Luul Mohamed and Alicia Youssef

The Fourth of July is a day filled with fun, excitement and celebration. Across the nation, families and friends gather to celebrate our nation’s independence. Follow these tips to ensure maximum fun and prevent injuries.

subscribe_blogFirework safety tips

Each year in the U.S., thousands of adults and children are treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries.

At Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, we care for more pediatric emergency and trauma patients than any other health care system in our region, seeing about 90,000 kids each year between our St. Paul and Minneapolis hospitals. Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis is the area’s only Level I pediatric trauma center in a hospital dedicated to only kids, which means we offer the highest level of care to critically injured kids. From the seriously sick to the critically injured, we’re ready for anything.

The safest way to enjoy fireworks and avoid a visit to the emergency room is to attend a public fireworks display. However, if you choose to light them yourself, here are a few ways to enjoy the fun while keeping you and your children safe:

  • Keep fireworks of any kind away from children, even after they have gone off. Parts of the firework can still be hot or even explosive after fireworks have been lit.
  • Older teens should only use fireworks under close adult supervision.
  • Keep fireworks far away from dense areas where there are a lot of buildings and/or people.
  • Do not light fireworks around flammable items such as dead leaves, gas-powered equipment or fabrics, and be sure they’re pointed away from people, animals and buildings.
  • Always have a fire extinguisher, water bucket and/or hose readily available in case of an accidental fire.
  • After you have enjoyed your fireworks, be sure to pick up any debris or pieces of the firework that may be left in the area. These small pieces may pose as a choking hazard for young children.

The Fourth of July weekend also is a great time for travel and spending time in the water. Please view these articles for tips on water safety and traveling:

Fireworks references: The National Council on Fireworks Safety, Parents: Fireworks Safety

6 tips to stay hydrated in hot weather

Follow these quick tips to keep your kids safe from dehydration when they’re out playing in hot temperatures.

Summertime definitely is here, and what kid can’t wait to get outside and play? But staying safe in the sun, and avoiding dehydration, is important.

We believe in Making Safe Simple. Here are some quick tips to help your kids avoid dehydration:

  • subscribe_blogOn hot days, make sure you drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. The human body requires at least 1 liter of water, daily.
  • Dehydration means that a child’s body doesn’t have enough fluid. Dehydration can result from not drinking; vomiting, diarrhea, or any combination of these conditions. Sweating or urinating too much rarely causes it.
  • Thirst is not a good early indicator of dehydration. By the time a child feels thirsty, he or she may already be dehydrated. And thirst can be quenched before the necessary body fluids have been replaced.
  • Signs of dehydration in children include the following: sticky or dry mouth, few or no tears when crying, eyes that look sunken into the head, lack of urine or wet diapers for six to eight hours in an infant (or only a small amount of dark yellow urine), lack of urine for 12 hours in an older child (or only a small amount of dark yellow urine); dry, cool skin; irritability, and fatigue or dizziness in an older child.
  • If you suspect your child is dehydrated, start by replenishing his or her body with fluids. Plain water is the best option for the first hour or two. The child can drink as much as he or she wants. After this, the child might need drinks containing sugar and electrolytes (salts) or regular food. Also, the child should rest in a cool, shaded environment until the lost fluid has been replaced.
  • Call your doctor immediately or take your child to the nearest emergency department if there is no improvement or condition is worsening.

At Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, we care for more pediatric emergency and trauma patients than any other health care system in our region, seeing about 90,000 kids each year between our St. Paul and Minneapolis hospitals. Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis is the area’s only Level I pediatric trauma center in a hospital dedicated to only kids, which means we offer the highest level of care to critically injured kids. From the seriously sick to the critically injured, we’re ready for anything.

Join Children’s trauma expert for Twitter chat

mn_Trauma_chat_880x440_Twitter

David Hirschman, MD

David Hirschman, MD

David Hirschman, MD, co-medical director of Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota’s emergency department, will answer the questions you have about trauma, emergencies and the emergency room in a Twitter chat, courtesy of Children’s and the Twin Cities Moms Blog.

The hour-long Minnesota Trauma Chat takes place at noon Wednesday, July 8. The chat’s hashtag is #MNTraumaChat. Dr. Hirschman will tweet from Children’s account (@ChildrensMN), and the Twin Cities Moms Blog will host from its account (@TCMomsBlog).

A $50 Starbucks gift card will be given at random to one chat participant. Be sure to use #MNTraumaChat in your questions and comments to be eligible. Feel free to RSVP to the event and check out some Twitter chat 101 from the Twin Cities Moms Blog.

At Children’s, we care for more pediatric emergency and trauma patients than any other health care system in our region, seeing about 90,000 kids each year between our St. Paul and Minneapolis hospitals. Children’s — Minneapolis is the area’s only Level I pediatric trauma center in a hospital dedicated to only kids, which means we offer the highest level of care to critically injured kids. From the seriously sick to the critically injured, we’re ready for anything.

Food that gets kids required vitamin D

Molly Martyn, MD, is a pediatric hospitalist at Children’s.

Molly Martyn, MD

Getting enough vitamin D is an important part of staying healthy. Vitamin D helps with calcium absorption, and thus is a critical part of how our bodies make and maintain strong bones. Research shows that it also plays a role in keeping our immune systems healthy and may help to prevent certain chronic diseases.

Many of us get our vitamin D from the sun and drinking milk, but families often wonder how to help their children get enough vitamin D to meet daily requirements.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants receive 400 international units (IU) per day of vitamin D. For children older than 1 year, the recommended amount is 600 IUs per day.

Vitamin D is found in a number of foods, some naturally and some through fortification. Foods that are naturally high in vitamin D include oily fish (such as salmon, sardines and mackerel), beef liver, egg yolks, mushrooms and cheese. Below are some estimates of vitamin D levels (per serving) of a variety of foods.

TYPE OF FOOD IUs OF VITAMIN D PER SERVING
Salmon, 3.5 ounces 360 IUs
Tuna (canned), 1.75 ounces 200 IUs
Shrimp, 4 ounces 162 IUs
Orange juice (vitamin D fortified), 1 cup 137 IUs
Milk (vitamin D fortified), 1 cup 100 IUs
Egg, 1 large 41 IUs
Cereal (vitamin D fortified), ¾ cup 40 IUs
Shiitake mushrooms, 1 cup 29 IUs

subscribe_blogAll infants who are breast fed (and even many who are formula fed) should receive a daily vitamin D supplement.

In addition, the majority of children do not eat diets high in foods containing vitamin D, so a vitamin D supplement or multivitamin may be an important part of helping them meet their daily requirements. Talk to your child’s health care provider about recommendations.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) has more information on vitamin D, including vitamin D recommendations for all age groups.

Molly Martyn, MD, is a pediatric hospitalist at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

Life jackets greatly reduce risk of drowning

A life jacket will provide significant protection for your little ones in and around water. (iStock photo)

A life jacket will provide significant protection for your little ones in and around water. (iStock photo)

Dex Tuttle

According to the Minnesota Water Safety Coalition, it’s estimated that half of all drowning events among recreational boaters could have been prevented if life jackets were worn.

As a parent, it doesn’t take much to convince me that the safety of my daughter is important, and more specifically, directly my responsibility. This statistic is alarming. Especially since drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 14 and younger.

My daughter, Quinnlyn, loves the water. It’s easy to get caught up in her excitement and joy as she splashes around and giggles that addicting toddler laugh, so much so that I often forget the dangers inherent in water for a child who is oblivious to them.

subscribe_blogStill, as an attentive parent, it’s hard for me to believe that drowning is an ever-present danger for my little one. That’s why it’s important to consider the staggering statistics around near-drowning incidents.

Since 2001, an average of 3,700 children sustained nonfatal near-drowning-related injuries. To spare you the details, check out this article.

When protecting your children around water, there’s little to nothing that can supplement uninterrupted supervision. However, a life jacket will provide significant protection for your little ones and help instill a culture of safety in your family. Here’s how to know if it fits right (thanks to the United States Coast Guard):

  • Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard-approved on the label on the inside of the jacket.
  • Ensure that the jacket you select for your child is appropriate for his or her weight, and be sure it’s in good condition. A ripped or worn-out jacket can drastically reduce its effectiveness.
  • Before you know it, football season will be here again (YES!), so consider the universal signal for a touchdown — after the life jacket is on and buckled, have your child raise his or her arms straight in the air. Pull up on the arm openings and make sure the jacket doesn’t ride up to the chin; it’s best to find out that it’s too loose before getting in the water.

At Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, we care for more pediatric emergency and trauma patients than any other health care system in our region, seeing about 90,000 kids each year between our St. Paul and Minneapolis hospitals. Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis is the area’s only Level I pediatric trauma center in a hospital dedicated to only kids, which means we offer the highest level of care to critically injured kids. From the seriously sick to the critically injured, we’re ready for anything.

When it’s critical, so is your choice – Children’s Level I Pediatric Trauma Center, Minneapolis.

Dex Tuttle is Children’s injury prevention program coordinator.

“Children’s Pedcast”: Car seat safety with Dex Tuttle


subscribe_blogDex Tuttle, Children’s injury prevention program coordinator, answers questions about car seat safety and provides information about rear-, front-facing and booster seats; the factors that go into choosing the proper car seat for your child and vehicle, as well as how to properly install a child safety seat.

Children’s is sponsoring a car seat checkup at the Roseville Fire Station (2701 Lexington Ave. N.) from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday (June 20). The event is free, but you must schedule an appointment. To schedule a car seat check, please contact Esther DeLaCruz at (651) 207-2008 or [email protected]

“Children’s Pedcast” can be heard on iTunes, Podbean, Stitcher, YouTube and Vimeo.