FAMILY: THE MOST IMPORTANT NETWORK
By Rebecca Unger and Karla Wehrheim
As those sleigh bells start to ring, it is time to think about preparing for family time during both routine days of winter and special holiday times.
Establishing family rituals can help enhance time together. Whether it be a large family gathering or a meaningful time with only a few family members, these rituals and special family times early on help bond a family together and enrich family life. Such meaningful times include taking part in community or religious events, baking together/passing on family recipes, enjoying game nights (charades, board games), taking walks together, taking part in a family song circle, or having just plain fun.
Other ideas include:
Set aside time to gather together, whether it is frequently lounging around a dinner table or a weekly family meeting.
Take part in family recreation – participating in sports together for fun and/or fitness or just regular walks in the park can be win win win situations!
Visit interesting places, like museums, libraries, extra-ordinary parks and sculpture gardens, or new restaurants/neighborhoods. Learning and stimulating the brain together can help family members of all ages grow and wonder.
Reading, singing and/or playing music together can create a regular family hootenanny! Sharing stories and songs from one generation to another can cultivate family traditions and legacies. Writing a family cookbook or newsletter can help spread the word and share experiences with out of town family members.
Creating holiday traditions including can help family members feel involved and learn about family values.
“Your Family Rituals.” Healthychildren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics, 10 June 2010. Web.
WINTER VACCINE UPDATE
By Scott Goldstein
Influenza season has officially begun in Chicago, and it is recommended that all infants and children over 6 months of age receive an influenza vaccine. Parents and caregivers should also be vaccinated. Our office will continue to offer influenza vaccines without an appointment at noon, 7 days a week at least through January.
In other vaccine news, there has been an update to the recommendations on the Pneumococcal vaccine. This vaccine is designed to protect against several strains of the bacteria Streptococcus Pneumoniae, a major cause of pneumonia, bacterial meningitis, as well as blood and ear infections. The vaccine was given in a series of 4 doses at the 2, 4, 6 and 12 month well child visits. It is now recommended that children under age 5 years of age who finished their series of 4 pneumococcal vaccine before May of 2010 receive a fifth dose at their next well child visit. This is because vaccine given after May 2010 protects against more strains of Streptococcus Pneumoniae than the previous vaccine. This means that your child may receive an additional vaccine at their 2, 3, or 4 year old check up.
BREASTFEEDING DURING THE WINTER MONTHS
By Nancy Nelson
Breastfeeding during the winter months is a very important thing you can do for your baby. There is a higher incidence of flu and respiratory illness as well as gastro intestinal illness during the winter months. Breast milk has immune properties in it and when the mother gets sick or is exposed to a specific illness, her milk begins to build up even more antibodies that are specific to fighting off that particular illness. We often get calls at the office asking whether a mom should continue to breastfeed her baby when she has a cold or the flu. The answer is YES YOU CAN. The baby has already been exposed to the illness and your milk will help fight off that infection. There are very few illnesses that require you to stop breastfeeding.
You can take acetaminophen or ibuprophen while breastfeeding. Decongestants and anti histamines are safe to take but may cause a drop in your breast milk supply. Cough medicine such as Robitussin DM is safe to use. Some natural remedies like honey and lemon, steam inhalations and tea are also recommended.
In order to prevent illness, eat well and increase your fluid intake. Low indoor humidity during the winter can cause an increase in your fluid needs.
Wash your hands before eating meals or snacks.
Remember to get your flu shot.
On a cold winter night there is something quite wonderful about cuddling up with your nursing baby.
HO HO! NOT UH OH!
By Rebecca Unger and Karla Wehrheim
Holidays can be filled with merriment but also mishaps. These guidelines can help maximize cheer and minimize calamity.
For air travel, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that each child has her/his own seat, even though the FAA allows children under 2 years to sit on a lap. To reduce possible ear discomfort, encourage children to suck on something or, for older children, have them blow bubbles through a straw with a glass of water. For international travel, check www.cdc.gov/travel to see if additional vaccines are needed. Especially for international travel, consider taking out travel insurance policies. They often are not expensive and they help provide services for serious illness and injury, in addition to a refund for medical expenses.
For car travel, a rear facing car seat should be used until your child has outgrown the weight and height allowance, AND your child is one year of age AND weighs 20 pounds. Children between the ages 8-12 should be in a booster seat until they are 4’9” tall. Until 13 years old, children should ride in the rear seat. For more information about car seat safety see: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention.
With all of the excitement around holiday times, it is important to pay attention to some safety tips to prevent injury.
When buying an artificial tree, make sure it is labeled “fire resistant”. Place your tree away from fireplaces, radiators, and doorways. Check your tree lights for broken connections and plug all electric decorations into an outlet with a ground fault circuit. Never use electric lights on a metallic tree and always turn off all lights when you leave your house and/or go to bed.
Choose toys that are an appropriate age level for your children to reduce safety hazards. Toys and small parts (less than 1 ¼ inches in diameter or 2 ¼ inches long) can be a choking hazard for children under 3 years. Toys with strings longer than 12 inches and ingestion of balloons, batteries and magnets can cause serious medical problems.
Holidays are a time for all kinds of family gatherings. Keep in mind that not all the homes you are visiting are as childproofed as yours. Consider bringing a portable bassinet to ensure your child has a safe place to play and/or sleep. Keep a list of important phone numbers handy when you travel including the national Poison Help Line (1-800-222-1222). Treasure this time with your family in a joyful and safe environment.
Follow this link to the American Academy of Pediatric’s Healthy Children website for more winter tips.
CANDYLAND, CHUTES AND LADDERS, AND LIFE!
By Rebecca Unger and Chase Woodward
As the temperatures drop outside and the snowflakes begin to fall it is the perfect time for your family to engage in one of America’s favorite pastimes: board games! There are a tremendous number of benefits to playing board games with your child, including social, motor, and cognitive development. Perhaps the greatest benefit of board games is that they are a way for your family to gather without distraction to have fun and allow children to have the parental attention they desire. In terms of social development children can learn basic relationship skills like how to interact with others, share, take turns, and follow rules. By playing board games children will be challenged to show perseverance and demonstrate focus – skills that are critical to success as they advance through school. Games allow parents and older siblings the opportunity to teach and role model these social skills for younger children. Certain old classic games such as Operation and Pick up Stix, can promote the development of fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Regarding cognitive development, recent research suggests that board games are important for the development of numeracy in young children. Specifically an experiment demonstrated that basic numerical board games (for example Chutes and Ladders) significantly increased pre-school students’ proficiency at counting, identifying printed numerals, comparing relative sizes of numbers, and estimating the position of numbers on a number line. This is important because proficiency in mathematics at the beginning of kindergarten is strongly predictive of mathematics test scores later in life. Other cognitive skills that board games promote include color and pattern recognition, sorting, memory, and language skills. Further adding to the allure of games is that they are inexpensive, they are usually easy to learn, and they are fun for the whole family. Many video and computer games are marketed as promoting mathematics and problem-solving skills, but studies suggest many of these games only explore these concepts at a very rudimentary level, and they are often more expensive.
Board games also foster important teaching moments for families. Young children place great importance on winning and they do not fully understand the central role of chance in some board games, so when children lose, it can be very frustrating for them. This is an excellent opportunity for a parent to begin teaching their child what it means to be both a good winner and a good loser. Parents and older siblings can role model how to be a good winner and loser, and the importance of sportsmanship. These are skills that will prove invaluable to your child as they begin more formal competition like sports clubs at school, as well in …Life!
Ready to play? Here are a few suggestions for your family:
Candyland and Chutes and Ladders: ages 3 to 5. Kids learn to take turns, count spaces, and accept rewards and consequences.
Memory: ages 2-4 and up. Kids learn recall skills.
Hi Ho Cherry-o: ages 3-5. Kids learn about counting .
Cariboo: ages 3 to 5 years old. Kids learn letter, number, color, and shape recognition.
Sequence for Kids: ages 3 to 6. Kids learn memory, matching, and visual skills.
Sorry: ages 4 and up. Kids learn counting and sportsmanship.
Guess Who?: ages 4 and up. Kids learn reasoning, question asking skills.
Scrabble Junior: ages 4 and up. Kids learn spelling, reading, and following rules.
Hullaballoo: ages 4 and up. An active game requiring quick thinking and problem solving.
Blokus: ages 5 and up. Kids learn geometry, spatial skills, and strategy.
Uno: ages 4-7 and up. Kids learn about numbers and strategy.
Connect Four: ages 5-6 and up. Kids learn about pattern recognition.
Checkers, Chinese Checkers: ages 5 and up. Kids learn about patterns and strategy.
Hedbanz: ages 6 and up. A fun fast paced game to develop reasoning skills.
Perfection: ages 6 and up. Helps develop fine motor skills.
Battleship: ages 7 and up. Kids learn math, persistence, and fair play.
Older children: Rummikub, Stratego, Risk, Jenga, Pictionary, Boggle, Banagrams, Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, Apples to Apples, and Apples to Apples Junior.
Classic games for most anyone!: Twister, Trouble, Life, Monopoly, Clue, Parcheesi, Sorry, Cooties, Scrabble, Chess
Cross, D. (2009). Benefits that board games hold for children. Retrieved November 1, 2010, from http://ezinearticles.com/?benefits-that-playing-board-games-hold-for-children&id=3449524
Ramani, G.B., & Siegler, R.S. (2008). Child Development, 79, 375-394.