Icky Things Kids Do…Should We Worry??

Last updated on March 9th, 2018 at 10:38 am

We’ve all been there: Your son drops an animal cracker on the floor, then bends over to pick it up and eat it. You think to yourself, “10-second rule!” No damage done, right? But how bad is it, really? Are you letting your kids pick up germs and bacteria, or are they actually boosting their immune systems? And what about all the other gross things kids do throughout the day? Inquiring moms need to know.

To find out when — and if — being a germophobe mom pays, we talked with Carole Marsh, author of The Here & Now Reproducible Book of a Kid’s Official Guide to Germs: Our Enemies and Our Friends!

Eating a cookie dropped on the floor: How bad is it?

I don’t think you can protect kids from every single thing that appears to be germy. And I think it’s pretty safe to say that kids are going to eat cereal off the floor no matter what you do, so don’t worry about this one!” Marsh says.

Researchers continue to debate the probable risks of eating food dropped on the floor; several studies have come to varying conclusions. A study at Connecticut College found that after hitting the ground, wet food was safe to eat for 30 seconds and dry food was fine after a full minute. However, another study at Clemson University found that food dropped onto surfaces intentionally contaminated with salmonella picked up enough of the bacteria to make a person sick.

While there is a risk of picking up bacteria from a fallen cookie crumb, think of it this way: Many objects you frequently touch — like kitchen sponges, faucets and elevator buttons — can contain significant amounts of bacteria, and you can’t live in constant fear of coming into contact with germs. So when it comes to dropping something edible on the floor, most health experts advise parents not to worry.

Drinking out of the same juice box: How bad is it?

Keeping beverages to yourself doesn’t make you a germophobe. In fact, sharing a beverage with a friend or family member carries multiple health risks, from tooth decay to strep throat and even meningitis.

“Some times of the year, every other kid has a cold, so there’s a good chance that a child with a cold is going to drink out of that juice box. Viruses such as colds can be transmitted through bodily fluids like saliva. And let’s not talk about all the other unmentionable gunky stuff that inevitably gets on the straws,” says Marsh. “Even when everyone’s healthy, it’s important to teach kids good habits — and learning not to drink out of the same cup or juice box as someone else is simply a healthy habit to teach.”

So do your family a favor and keep juice boxes separate at snack time.

Sharing eye shadow: How bad is it?

Kids love to test-drive the pretty things moms wear, but unless you buy makeup specifically for your child, it’s best to keep her fingers out of the pot.

“Children have different skin sensitivities, especially around their eyes,” says Marsh.

Moreover, researchers have found that makeup, especially eye makeup, is often packed with germs, infections and even uber-icky Staphylococcus aureus, a toxic bacterium.

“Different people have different hygiene habits — maybe someone else’s eye shadow has been left open on a bathroom sink and has been contaminated with something,” says Marsh.

Bottom line: It’s simply safer not to share.

Sharing earrings: How bad is it?

You hopefully wouldn’t let your friend stick a finger covered in gunk in your ear — so letting your daughter use a friend’s earrings should induce a similar sense of ickiness. Hepatitis is common in sharing earrings, as well as a slew of other nasty viruses.

“Never share jewelry for piercings of any kind,” Marsh advises. “It just takes the tiniest opening in the skin for an infection to get in.”

Eating your own boogers: How bad is it?

Health experts generally disagree on the benefits of picking your nose: Some say it’s good for you, some say it’s bad — and some say it doesn’t matter.

“This one is really high on the gross-factor list, but it’s most likely harmless,” says Marsh. “Just don’t eat anybody else’s boogers!”

Whether or not digging for nose-gold is actually good for your health, those same experts would agree it’s a gross habit that your kid should kick to the curb.

Drinking bathwater: How bad is it?

When you consider the concoction of stuff in bathwater — shampoo, bacteria and germs — it sounds, well, disgusting. But just like a spilled cookie isn’t the end of the world, a little bath water is also harmless for your tot.

“Kids don’t typically drink 8 ounces of bathwater — they’d probably get a handful or a slurp — so it’s not something to be overly concerned about,” says Marsh. “I just wouldn’t make a regular habit of it, since the soap in the water could cause an upset stomach or diarrhea. Plus, there could be fecal matter in the water, which is obviously not something you want to consume.”

So don’t worry if your child takes a sip of the soapy stuff. Just make sure she goes to the bathroom before taking a bath.

Sharing hats: How bad is it?

This is one problem that’s stood the test of time. Your parents probably advised you not to share hats when you were a kid — and since then, not much has changed.

“These days, there are a lot of lice outbreaks, so it’s best not to share hats. If it’s going to cause a huge headache, why risk it?” says Marsh.

Lice still love any head — whether it’s dirty or squeaky clean — and can lay eggs in any hair they find. Keep your kids safe by asking them not to swap hats with their friends.

At the end of the day, Marsh says moms only really need to worry about getting their kids immunized, making sure they wash their hands and teaching them healthy habits — like the importance of good nutrition and a full night’s sleep. “When you see a child doing something gross, don’t focus on the germs. Focus on what’s good and healthy for all of us. For instance, say: ‘This is what we do to stay healthy and happy.’”



Keep your whole family active and fit this winter

Last updated on September 2nd, 2015 at 11:26 pm

Many families are concerned at this time of year about methods to stay fit when the outdoor temperature and winter weather is not as conducive to remaining active as during the summer. This is a very legitimate concern and not only speaks to burning calories but also to calcium metabolism. It is well known that Vitamin D levels can be raised by the exposure to sunlight. As a matter of fact the illness, rickets, due to a decreased level of calcium and vitamin D, occurs more frequently in situations that preclude frequent exposure to sunlight, e.g. living above the Arctic Circle where winters can at times erase all exposure to sunlight.

The first and, I believe the most important issue for families to think about is to pull the plug on televisions and computers. Not only does the Academy of Pediatrics recommend no more than two hours a day in front of a visual screen (television and computers together) but the computer has become one of the major contributors to childhood overweight issues and obesity, a very significant problem in the United States population.

The second issue is to rethink just how the winter months differ significantly from the summer months. Sure, it’s generally colder and sometimes icy and snowy but there is no reason that outdoor activity cannot take place in the winter also. Dress appropriately and get out on a bicycle with your children ( worth 140 calories an hour for a child of 50 pounds going at a moderate speed), or go for walks at even a relatively slow rate which can help burn off 50 calories an hour in that same 50 lb child. Some outdoor winter activities can burn off a large amount of calories; for example snow shoeing (200Cal/hr), ice skating (75 Cal/hr), and skiing (up to 250 Cal/hr).

One indoor activity might include walking around a museum during which the interest factor will make the loss of those 50 Cal/hr go by fast. Other indoor activities include martial arts (230Cal/hr), jumping rope (230Cal/hr)- of course it would be difficult to jump rope for an hour, swimming at your local “Y” (160 Cal/hr), shooting baskets ( 100 Cal/hr), and bowling (up to 80 Cal/hr). These activities can be cumulative, allowing you to break such activities up into smaller time increments.

If you must stay indoors at home for a day or two and if you can afford it, invest in interactive computer or television games such as Wii sports- I’ve tried it and you can really work up a sweat. Keep in mind such minimal activity as sitting quietly and reading, or even sitting in front of the television (hopefully not the case) and staying awake can burn off about 25 Cal/hr!!

Stay fit, stay active and enjoy the winter.

Heaven Knows We Need Them Here

Last updated on August 30th, 2015 at 06:32 pm

Christina Taylor- Greene was one of the unfortunate victims of the Tucson massacre. We know so much about her already and she has touched so very many lives. For example we know that she was born on September 11, 2001. We know that when she was laid to rest that a special flag, one that flew over ground zero, was present at her interment.

We also know that she was the inspiration behind President Obama’s “We can be better” speech. We heard that this nine year old was eagerly on her way to meet her congresswoman when she was gunned down.

I recently learned that she wanted to be and was an organ donor. At nine, I don’t believe that I was even aware of organ donation- or when I was ten, eleven or twelve for that matter. It was reported tonight that her cornea were donated and as a result two children who were blind can now see. What an amazing gift and it demonstrates the power of selfless giving. The courage of her parents must be acknowledged too and I do so now.

Many years ago I saw a bumper sticker that read, “Don’t take your organs to Heaven, Heaven knows we need them here.” And perhaps, just perhaps a little bit of Christina stays behind in her inspiration, in her selflessness and in her courage. Check your driver’s license- are you a donor? Looking for a way to give?

And a child will lead the way.

To Breastfeed for 6 Months or Not To Breastfeed for 6 Months…

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 12:14 pm

…that is the question…

This week a small group of pediatric health experts from the UK published a report in the British Medical Journal questioning the 2001 World Health Organization’s recommendation to provide 6 months of exclusive breast feeding. The WHO and UNICEF recommend:

  • Initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of life
  • Exclusive breastfeeding – that is the infant only receives breastmilk without any additional food or drink, not even water
  • Breastfeeding on demand – that is as often as the child wants, day and night
  • No use of bottles, teats or pacifiers

This is based on significant evidence that breast milk reduces the rate of pneumonia, ear infections, gastroenteritis and other infections.

Given however the much lower incidence rate of these illnesses in “developed countries” some medical professionals have voiced their concern about applying the 6 month restriction universally. They argue that while “exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is readily defendable in resource-poor countries with high morbidity and mortality from infections, in developed countries, other concerns can take precedence”.

This aligns with the new report which suggests that babies who are breastfed exclusively for six months are at a higher risk for iron deficiency and food allergies including celiac disease, and may also lead to a delay in developing a taste for food products which could have a long term impact on diet. Among the questions asked – “will babies who aren’t introduced to bitter-tasting foods in the first 6 months continue to have an aversion to them for the rest of their lives??” If this does in fact occur, will it make it even more difficult to win the battle against obesity?

All of that being said, the current debate is not one which attempts to answer the question of whether or not a mother should breastfeed. That is a separate conversation with its own proponents for and against. But even for those moms who make the decision to breastfeed, many still struggle to continue for the recommended 6 months – especially if they return to work. (According to the CDC , although 75% of new moms in the U.S. start breastfeeding, only 13% are still breastfeeding exclusively at 6 months).

So what is the right answer? Can solid foods be introduced as early as 4 months? The WHO and UNICEF are continuing to support a 6 month guideline while a number of experts are now recommending the alternative. One area they both seem to agree is that each child is different, and watching for baby’s cues will be the best guideline of all.

So what about you?? How did you know when your little one was ready for solids?

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References:

Facebook Now Provides Local AMBER Alerts for Missing Children

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 12:14 pm

Thanks to a partnership between Facebook and NCMEC (the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children), Facebook users can now sign up to receive localized AMBER Alerts through their news feed.

The AMBER Alert™ Program is a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies, broadcasters, transportation agencies, and the wireless industry, to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child-abduction cases. The goal of AMBER Alerts is to quickly involve the local community in helping to facilitate the safe return of the missing child. Since its birth, the AMBER Alert program has helped to save the lives of 525 children nationwide

Currently there are 56 new Facebook AMBER Alert pages that have been created – one for each U.S. state, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia – as well as 3 pages for Canadian provinces Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, and New Brunswick. Additionally Australia, France, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ireland all have AMBER alert systems in place, so it is hoped that Facebook pages will soon be available for these locations as well

Today, January 13th 2011 marks the 15th anniversary of the abduction and murder of 9 year old Amber Hagerman – the little girl who is the namesake of the AMBER Alert program. In her memory, I ask the Pediatric Safety readers who use Facebook to please sign up for these alerts.

Aren’t They Too Young to Enter Puberty??

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 12:15 pm

American Academy of Pediatrics: Over a decade ago, Marcia Herman-Giddes, a pediatrician and now professor at the University of North Carolina School of Public Health, noticed many young girls in grades one to five were showing public hair and breast development,” In her words, “It seemed like there were too many, too young,” and launched a major national study involving 225 clinicians and over 17,0000 girls to prove her hypothesis.

Her famous paper published in Pediatrics found that our kids are growing up faster.

  • The average age onset menstruation is hitting girlsfour years earlier
  • 15 percent of seven years olds and almost half of eight years olds are now developing breasts or public hair

Comprehensive data is still not in for boys but studies show that they are reaching their adult heights at younger ages, suggesting they too are maturing earlier as well. There’s no doubt about it: our today’s kids are growing up faster in many ways. The key here is to beware of the trend and get educated so you can educate your child.

Start Those “Grown Up Talks” Earlier

But it isn’t just puberty that is hitting our kids earlier. Studies show that drinking, sexual promiscuity, engaging in oral sex, depression, eating disorders, stress, peer pressure, puberty, and even acne are all hitting our kids three to four years earlier than when we were growing up. So don’t deny your child’s fast-forward culture and wait to discuss those “grown up” subjects you planned for the teen years. If you’re not talking about these tougher issues believe me your child’s friends most likely are. Be the one who provides accurate facts that are laced with your moral beliefs and your values.

Also make sure your child’s doctor is someone your daughter or son feels comfortable speaking to as well. Puberty is striking kids at younger ages and your child does needs to feel comfortable speaking to someone—if not you–about menstruation or wet dreams.

What to Expect Age by Age

School Age: Puberty signs may begin in girls as seven or eight including public or underarm hair development, and acne.

Preteen: Feel physically and emotionally awkward with puberty.

Girls: onset of menstruation and breast development

Boys: puberty begins around age nine later than girls, with a sudden growth “spurt” or more “mature” body odor, enlargement of testes or penis as well as deepening voice, facial hair development.

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Resources

  • Survey from AdAge; elementary-school set is one of fastest-growing markets for digital media players; 31 percent of U.S. kids 6 to 10 have some form of music player: Bryan Gardiner, “Technology for Kids,” nwa WorldTraveler, p. 74., 2008
  • Too many too young: Marcia E. Herman-Giddens, et al, “Secondary Sexual Characteristics and Menses in Young Girls Seen in Office Practice: A Study from the Pediatric Research in Office Settings Network,” Pediatrics, 99, no 4(April 1997): 505-12.

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