Keep the whole family safe over the holiday season

The holiday season is lots of fun for adults and children alike, but there’s a lot to consider when transforming your home into a winter wonderland. Here are a few simple safety guidelines to follow while enjoying the holidays with your immediate and extended family.

Trimming the tree
Nothing is quite as symbolic as a well-decorated tree all lit up for the season. If your family celebrates the holidays with a Christmas tree, there may be a few safety precautions to consider before you start the trimming.

The first thing to consider is the tree itself. Christmas trees, both real and artificial, can present certain risks in the home. When selecting your tree for the year, pay attention to the condition of the needles. Trees that are too dry may wither before the season is through, many may also pose a fire hazard. If your family uses an artificial tree, make sure to get one that’s labeled “fire resistant.”

When pulling out your decorations, consider family members in the household. If you have toddlers and young children, you may wish to consider forgoing breakable ornaments, or at least hanging them near the top of the tree where they can’t be easily grasped. Ensuring that light strings and garlands are similarly out of reach may also keep the tree from tumbling down should a wayward child wish to give them a tug.

Family pets may also be a factor in your tree decorating decisions. Keeping favorite ornaments away from low branches where a curious pooch may sniff about or strike with an excited wag of the tail may help preserve them for another year. Frisky felines have also been known to explore Christmas trees, and have been responsible for their share (or more!) of broken ornaments.

Surviving the holiday parties
If your home is the place where all the family members will gather, think about the different types of guests you expect to receive. Family members with young children may appreciate you taking a few steps to baby-proof your space by removing breakables from low shelves and designating a “smoking area” to keep fumes away from younger partygoers.

If you’re spending the holidays elsewhere, bear in mind that other homes may not be baby-proofed. Keep an eye on your child at all times to prevent him or her from grabbing those breakables or getting into cabinets, ashtrays and other undesirable areas. Check with your hosts to see if there’s an area meant for children.

When visiting, it’s also important to remember that children’s stress levels may run higher than usual when they’re taken out of their normal routine. Make sure they’re provided with snacks and meals at regular intervals, and if they’re accustomed to napping at a certain hour, try to work this into your holiday schedule.

If you decide to leave the children at home while attending a party, make sure that the babysitter has quick access to all emergency numbers they might need, including police and fire departments, a poison control center, your cell phone and – of course – the local pizzeria.

Checking new toys for safety hazards
Every child’s favorite part of the holiday season is, of course, the presents. However, before you let your little ones play with their newly acquired booty, check all products for age limits and potential safety issues, such as choking hazards. You’ll look a lot more fondly over the scene of your children happily playing with new toys when you know they’re safe.

Don’t forget that the holiday season is also cold and flu season. Make sure to keep play areas clean and sanitized, and keep sick children away from others if they’re likely to spread the illness. They’ll feel better after taking their medication and getting a lot of rest.

FLAVORx makes medicinal flavorings that make taking medicine easier for children. Ask your pharmacist how to get FLAVORx for your child.

Parent-only interventions may help obese children

Childhood obesity is a serious issue that can play a role in the development of significant and sometimes even fatal physical health problems, including diabetes, heart conditions and joint issues. It can lay the foundation for a number of serious mental health problems, too, such as low self-esteem and poor or distorted body image. Obesity can also make children potential targets of ridicule from classmates and other youths.

According to Hannah Ewald, a researcher at the Institute for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics in Basel, Switzerland, “Childhood obesity is a serious public health issue in developed and in developing countries and we need to set the course as early as possible.”

The current approach to dealing with childhood obesity typically involves interventions from both medical and educational professionals, in which both the parent and the child attend sessions to discuss a healthy weight-loss plan. However, a new study from the institute suggests that a parent-only intervention may be just as beneficial for a child’s healthy weight outcome, and may well save them some of the embarrassment associated with these kinds of intervention meetings, according to Reuters Health.

There are other positive effects associated with the parent-only approach as well. It has the potential benefits of being more cost effective. In addition, without the child present, many parents are better able to focus on the information being presented to them – rather than being distracted by monitoring how their child may be reacting to the information, they’re able to absorb it. Doctors may also speak more freely about the potential dangers of the child remaining obese, also without being inhibited by the child’s reaction.

8 studies compared intervention results
For the study, researchers looked at data from eight prior or ongoing studies. In each of the studies considered, participating families were randomly assigned to different types of weight-loss interventions.

Of the studies, five compared group-oriented programs with interventions for both parents and kids. Two compared parent-only versus child-only interventions. The final study contained a mix of approaches, with parent-only and child-only interventions occurring first, followed by parents, children and health professionals all meeting together.

Participants in the parent-only intervention programs were at least as successful in effecting weight loss as the parent-child interventions, and in many cases they were even more successful.

However, parent-only intervention programs also had the highest dropout rate. Ewald’s researchers suggest that some parents may feel overwhelmed by taking on the complete responsibility of their child’s healthy weight loss, or the dropout rates may simply be a sign of a busy lifestyle, and that parents are more likely to make time for a program their children are likewise involved in.

Unfortunately, plans that don’t have the active support and guidance of a parent figure are the most likely to fail in achieving a healthy weight, according to Ewald’s team.

“A child that is given the sole responsibility for its weight is unlikely to succeed in gaining a healthy weight,” said Ewald. “How to eat healthy, how to exercise properly and how to deal with the emotional side are difficult topics to tackle even for adults. That is why the parents (or caregivers), who have the biggest impact on the child, need to understand their part in the process.”

In the end, the best chance a child has for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is by having a supportive information base like parents, educators and health care professionals. Parents and educators need to be able to provide structure and guidance when necessary to help kids get back on track. Health care professionals can provide nutrition and exercise expertise, which can help parents form a sensible plan for their children.

Health care professionals can also help parents of children who are affected by illnesses, such as Type 2 diabetes, due to obesity create a plan to reduce and eventually eliminate these dangers using prescription medications and other treatments.

FLAVORx makes medicinal flavorings that help make oral medications easier to take for children. Ask your pharmacist how you can get FLAVORx for your child.

5 tips to handle a picky eater

Every household has one. Whether they’re in a phase where they’ll only eat a certain food or where it seems they won’t eat any food, dealing with a picky eater can be frustrating. Here are a few tips to help!

1. Stick to a routine
Kids are creatures of routine, and it’s helpful for them to know when to expect their next snack or meal. This helps them prepare mentally for food while at the same time helping their bodies’ to establish a regular, healthy metabolism. A hungry child is more likely to eat what she is served rather than protest items on the plate.

At the same time, when a routine is broken, you’ll need to respect the effect this may have on your child. For example, if you’re running late and the babysitter gives your child a snack, they may not want to eat all the food on their plate at dinner time. Communicate with your child to figure out whether he or she is just full, or if there’s something else in play.

2. Be fun and creative
Kids love to play and interact with their food. Serving them hands-on dishes such as veggies with ranch dressing or apple slices with honey or peanut butter can help them feel like they’re playing a game as well as eating a meal or snack. Using cookie cutters to cut shapes into foods can also have this effect.

Don’t be afraid to shake things up! Serving breakfast foods for dinner can also make mealtime more fun, as can dishes displaying an array of brightly colored foods.

3. Get your kids involved
Kids also like to be included in the preparation process. This not only educates them about healthy foods and how to cook them, but it also gives them a feeling of pride knowing that they’re “helping mom” or acting “like a grown-up.”

Ask your children to wash and peel fruits and vegetables, or to stir batter or casserole mixes. While you work together, you can take the opportunity to talk to your children about the nutritional value of each food you’re preparing.

4. Be patient
When dealing with a picky eater, it’s important to be patient. There’s a good chance that, even if their refusal to eat a certain food is a decision and not an actual dislike, you won’t change their mind overnight. Lots of things can turn kids off of certain foods, from their color to their scent or texture. Sometimes, kids need time to get used to a new item before they’ll eat it without reservation.

Try preparing foods in different ways to give your child a new experience with it. Soups and casseroles can be good mediums for mixing in some new foods.

5. Be firm
Avoid the trap of becoming a short-order cook in your very own home by being firm with your child about what’s for dinner. If you teach your child that he can get whatever he wants merely by refusing to eat what you’ve served, you’ll set yourself up for countless nights of this behavior. Gently insist that your child stay at the dinner table, even if he or she refuses to eat what you’ve prepared, until the entire family is done eating.

If your child’s picky eating becomes a problem to the point that you’re worried about their nutrition and development, consult their pediatrician or seek the help of a specialist. In some cases, a mental or behavioral issue may be responsible, however, there’s also a chance it’s a medical problem that may be treatable by medication.

FLAVORx makes medicinal flavorings that help kids take oral medications more easily. Ask your pharmacist how you can get FLAVORx for your child’s prescription.

Establishing good eating habits early: 3-5 years

This is finally the age when your young child will be able to sit at the dinner table with adults and enjoy most of the same foods. While you may still have to cut his or her food into smaller, bite-sized pieces, it's a wonderful landmark to reach with your child! Here are some guidelines on establishing healthy meal and snack habits with your young child.

Start off right with regular meals
Your child is now ready to have regular meals with the family, and many families have different eating styles. Whether you choose to have three square meals a day or opt for five or six smaller meals, now is the time to develop the same routine with your child. Talk about your family meal routine so your child knows what to expect.

Monitor their behavior between meals to see if a healthy snack is needed to get them through. Signs a child may be hungry include crankiness, fatigue and reports of feeling woozy or unwell. Teaching your child to eat only when he or she is truly hungry – and not when something simply tastes or smells good – will help them develop healthy eating habits and maintain a healthy weight throughout the course of their lives.

Educate them about foods
At the preschool age, children absorb knowledge like a sponge. Now is the perfect time to teach them the value of healthy foods as well as the dangers of eating too many unhealthy foods. You can use food flashcards, computer programs, learning games and educational television programming to teach them about the types of nutrients found in each type of food, and how those nutrients help to fuel their bodies and give them energy.

It's important for kids at this age to learn about moderation. Don't be afraid to let them eat that chocolate cake at the birthday party. Rather, help them understand why they should eat it – to celebrate and enjoy delicious foods with friends, of course! – and why they should limit their consumption.

Choose healthy snack foods
In addition to teaching your kids moderation when it comes to sweets and "junk foods," it's also important to teach them to enjoy and even prefer healthy snack foods, such as fruits, veggies and nuts. Fruits will give your preschooler that needed sugar spike between meals while also satisfying a sweet tooth. Veggies will provide essential vitamins and minerals. Nuts offer protein that will fuel your child's brain and help them stay full and focused until their next meal.

Children love finger foods such as baby carrots, celery sticks and apple slices. Adding a fun dip to the mix – such as peanut butter, honey or a delicious dressing – will help them interact with and enjoy their food even more. Looking for a salty carbohydrate? Pretzels dipped in peanut butter are a solid snack that will give your child the extra fuel he or she needs during that after-school soccer game or play date.

What should you give your child to drink?
Children love sugary juices and chocolate milk, but water is what they really need to stay hydrated. Give your child water to satisfy thirst and help develop a taste for this essential fluid early.

It's OK to offer their favorite fruit juice or flavored milk on occasion – but these should be counted as sugar- and calorie-laden snacks. Help your child understand why these are treats and not regular fare.

Establishing healthy eating habits early will help children maintain healthy weights and fight illness and disease over the course of their entire lives. Help your child be healthy by educating them about food from a young age.

If they do fall ill, FLAVORx makes medicinal flavorings that help children take their medicine. Ask your pharmacist how to get FLAVORx for your child's prescription medication.

Establishing good eating habits early: 1-3 years

Childhood obesity is on the decline, thanks in large part to parents playing their role as mindful educators and providers to their children. Toddlers are among the most discerning eaters, and the food habits formed during this stage can follow them through childhood and into the rest of their lives. In order to establish healthy food habits early, follow these simple tips to introduce a healthy diet.

How to convince your child to eat healthy foods
Toddlers don’t understand the difference between “healthy” foods and “unhealthy” junk foods and snacks – they only know whether they like eating it! This presents the opportunity to introduce a variety of healthy foods without them carrying the “good-for-you stigma” that makes older children cringe. In fact, because your child’s tastes are still developing, now is the perfect time to introduce them to a variety of foods and help them develop a taste for them early. That doesn’t mean your toddler will love each food you put in front of them, but it does mean you’ll stand more of a fighting chance.

Another fun way to get kids excited about new foods is to involve them in the preparation and cooking process. When kids see whole foods transformed into their own snacks and meals, they’re more likely to get excited about eating them – especially if they got to have a hand in preparing them. Let your child help you spread peanut butter on celery sticks or mash up some avocado and watch their delight when it comes time to eat.

Establish healthy snacking habits young
Many children and adults can attribute at least some of their excess belly fat to needless snacking. There are a number of reasons why people snack: boredom, stress, depression and even false hunger pangs. The only real reason to snack, however, is that your body needs the extra calories to function properly. Teaching your toddler to only snack when they’re truly hungry may set them up for more positive eating habits later on down the road.

When choosing snacks, teach your child to expect small portions of their favorite healthy foods. Fruit makes a satisfying option due to its sweetness and high nutrition content. All snacks don’t have to be sweet, however. Fatty snacks that are low in calorie content are also good choices, as they’ll be filling while giving your child’s brain the amino acids needed to keep running strong. Cut small cubes of cheese or avocado or smear some nut butter onto a whole-grain cracker for a quick and easy snack to fuel your toddler’s growing brain.

Dealing with picky eaters
It seems like every family has the resident picky eater, and more likely than not, your toddler will go through this stage. In order to ensure that eschewing healthy foods is indeed a phase and not a lifelong bad habit, be patient as well as persistent when introducing new foods to your toddler.

In some cases, it may take between 10 to 15 different introductions to a certain food before a young child will feel comfortable eating it. While this may seem frustrating, keep your cool and remember that it’s an entirely new experience for your child. It may take a little while for them to warm up to the broccoli now, but if you are successful, you can save yourself a lifetime of struggle as your child grows through childhood into adulthood. Helping your child to appreciate and even love healthy foods will help them grow and develop properly while maintaining a healthy weight during childhood. Children who maintain a healthy weight are less likely to be affected by illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other physical, mental and emotional problems later in life. A healthy diet will also help boost your child’s immunity, making them less likely to get sick.

If your child does get sick, help them heal faster with medication prescribed by their pediatrician. FLAVORx makes medicinal flavorings that can help make oral medication taste better. Ask your pharmacist about FLAVORx today.

Autism aided by sensory therapy for children

Today, approximately 1 in 88 children are diagnosed with ASDs, or autism spectrum disorders, according to the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The gender divide between boys and girls is considerable. Among boys, the number is 1 in 54. For girls, it’s 1 in 252. Even among girls, however, the numbers are growing. Autism is a serious condition that can hinder development if not carefully monitored and treated. However, a new study recently published online in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders has surfaced, indicating that sensory therapy treatment may help children who are affected by ASDs.

What is sensory integration?
Sensory therapy, or sensory integration, is a way to help autistic children become more comfortable and familiar with certain sounds, sights, smells, tastes and textures. Using play, therapists and parents can help introduce children to these sensations that occur in their daily lives, which otherwise may seem threatening or jarring.

Children who are affected by ASDs often find certain types of stimulation to be overwhelming. Even something as simple as the sound of a vacuum cleaner or the feel of a certain type of fabric can cause extreme distress or confusion. These reactions to everyday sensations can limit a person’s capabilities, making even simple tasks like cleaning the house or getting dressed for the day seem complicated or hostile. However, using sensory integration, parents and health care professionals can help affected children lead more normal lives.

“If you ask parents of children with autism what they want for their kids, they’ll say they want them to be happy, to have friends, to be able to participate in everyday activities,” said study author Roseann Schaaf, Ph.D. Schaaf works as an occupational therapist at Thomas Jefferson University’s School of Health Professions, in Philadelphia.

According to Schaaf, sensory integration isn’t a new therapy, but it has been viewed as controversial in the past, in part because it had not been scrutinized until this point.

How sensory integration helps
In Schaaf’s admittedly small study, 32 children between the ages of 4 and 8 were assigned to one of two groups. The first group received their usual ASD treatments and therapies, including both medication and behavioral therapy. The second group continued their ongoing treatments, with the addition of 30 sensory integration sessions over the course of 10 weeks. Parents participating in the study were asked to outline a list of simple goals for the duration of the study, such as trying new foods or learning to get dressed in the morning without a struggle.

Children exposed to sensory integration were paired with an occupational therapist who created an individualized plan to integrate sensory therapy and meet the family’s goals. They worked in a “gym” setting, using ball pits, carpeted scooter boards, mats, swings and other equipment designed to help the kids be more comfortable being active in the sensory setting.

After 10 weeks, Schaaf’s research showed that the children exposed to sensory integration scored better in reaching the goals outlined by the families at the start of the study. These children were also showing better results in their daily routines.

“Parents rated their kids as more independent in self-care and participation in everyday activities,” Schaaf said.

Schaaf’s results suggest that introducing an element of sensory integration to an ASD child’s usual treatment plan, which should also include behavioral therapy and medication, can help manage the condition.

FLAVORx makes medicinal flavorings that help make medication taste better for young children. Ask your pharmacist how you can get FLAVORx for your child today.

Establishing good eating habits early: 0-12 months

Parents have never been more aware of the importance of ensuring a healthy and balanced diet for their children. Kids who are able to get the essential nutrients while maintaining a healthy weight are more likely to perform better in school and other activities and exhibit better physical, mental and emotional health throughout their lifetimes.

Today, childhood obesity is in decline throughout most of the United States, and this is in large part due to the mindful efforts of parents, teachers and health professionals to educate children on the importance of good nutrition and help them make the right choices for their health.

More and more, experts are beginning to understand that establishing healthy dietary habits early is vital for the lifelong follow-through of these practices. Believe it or not, the process of ensuring good nutrition in your child can begin as early as birth. There are a number of steps you can take in your child’s first year to start them off healthy and set their tiny feet on the path of lifelong health.

Breastfeeding and healthy development
All new mothers have to make the call on whether to breastfeed their baby. While this is and should be a highly personal decision, there are certain benefits that breastfeeding can offer. In addition to helping you bond on a physical level with your new baby, breastfeeding can actually provide more nutrients that help foster proper baby development. Additionally, the World Health Organization reported that a number of studies indicate that children who were breastfed for at least six months tend to weigh less and be more physically fit than those who were not.

A crying baby doesn’t always indicate hunger
Babies cry for a number of reasons. Unfortunately, one of the first things a new parent will often reach for is the bottle. While this is sometimes the right answer, children’s cries may just as often indicate digestion issues, physical discomfort, exhaustion or the desire to be soothed by a parent or other individual. When you feed your baby too often, you’re not only adding extra calories at a time when his or her body is developing and establishing its “normal” state, but you may also be establishing food as a source of comfort at an early age.

Instead, learn when your baby does require food, and form a schedule to meet those needs. Cries of hunger are usually very different than cries of anger or distress. Listen carefully to determine your baby’s different ways of communicating with you. Other signs that indicate hunger may be the smacking of lips, looking alert and the practice of “rooting,” or moving the head from side to side as though looking for the source of food.

Starting on solids? Explore new tastes
Starting your baby on solid foods is an exciting prospect for a new parent, and it’s the perfect time to help your child establish a healthy food palette. Introduce your baby to new textures and flavors to help them develop a well-rounded, less-selective set of tastebuds.

Introducing solid foods can be frustrating at first – according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children may need to be introduced to new foods up to 10-15 times before they’ll actually eat them. Be patient and persistent in helping your child discover and delight in new tastes. Teaching them to love their vegetables at this early stage may sometimes seem like a hassle, but remember, it may save you hundreds of arguments over the dinner table in the near future.

Establishing healthy eating habits early is among the best ways to keep your child healthy, however, that doesn’t mean you’ll never need to deal with childhood illness. Helping your child get the right treatment for his or her ailments will help them heal faster and get back to their normal, happy selves.

FLAVORx makes medicinal flavorings that can help children take their medicine easier. Ask your pharmacist how to get FLAVORx for your child today.

Ways to get the family up and moving after Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving holiday is now over and, though the break was lovely while it lasted, it’s time to snap back to the regular routine. Parents are returning to the office and kids are heading back to school, only to find that the winter holidays are already in the air! ‘Tis the season of candy canes, cookies and hot chocolate – and, for many, it’s also the season of unwanted weight gain. This year, you can help your family stay fit and healthy by indulging in some post-Thanksgiving exercise.

Bundle up and take a hike
Walking is a cheap and easy way to get the whole family exercising while spending some quality time together. You can opt for a long hike or a short jaunt that’s more suitable for young children or senior family members. You can take an easy stroll through your own neighborhood or a scenic trek through a nearby park. Though there’s a chill in the air, that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the activity. Break out your hats, scarves and mittens and get moving!

Go ice skating
While you can ice skate almost any time of year, there’s something about this activity that practically screams “winter fun!” Kids as well as adults love to strap on their skates and hit the ice, even – and in some cases, especially – if it means a few harmless wipeouts. All that laughter will surely get the blood pumping! Don’t forget to equip family members with knee and elbow pads if you think they need them.

Join a fitness program
With all of the family gatherings, parties and special occasions that crop up around the holidays, it’s the perfect time to join a fitness program. Adults can opt for a gym membership or try out a new class, such as yoga or weight lifting. Kids may prefer athletic activities that are a little more fast-paced, such as gymnastics or martial arts. By joining during the holiday season, you’ll beat the New Year’s resolution rush – and you may even help your family prevent (or at least reduce) this year’s winter weight gain.

There are a number of ways you can get moving during the holiday season – all that matters is that you get your family up and burning off those extra holiday calories. Exercise not only helps you stave off those extra holiday pounds, but it also boosts the immune system. This will help you and your kids fight off illness and shorten healing times in the event that you do get sick.

FLAVORx makes medicinal flavorings that can make taking medicine more pleasant this cold and flu season. Ask your pharmacist how to add FLAVORx to your child’s prescription.