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Escape the Heat This Summer in Phoenix: Indoor Edition

Keeping your kids active during the summer in Phoenix can be challenging. You want them to play outside, but you don’t want them to suffer the effects of extreme heat.

Thankfully, the Phoenix metro area has no shortage of indoor options for those of us who don’t have a pool, or who simply want to escape into some air conditioning. Here are just some ideas:

Indoor Playgrounds

Located in shopping centers and malls, these provide an environment for kids to socialize and blow off steam. They generally charge admission, but you can often get a frequent visitor pass.

Public Libraries

Our public library systems offer more than just story time (though story time keeps the mind active, which is also important!). From science presentations to martial arts and yoga classes, check your local library for a list of free programs.

Indoor Mini-Golf

With several locations around the valley, mini golf gets your kids on their feet to practice putting.

Trampoline Parks

For vigorous exercise that’s fun for all ages, a trampoline park is the place to go. Talk to your kids about safety and check the facility to prevent injuries from falling.

Indoor Rock Walls and Rope Courses

Climbing builds strength and teaches kids to overcome challenges. Find a facility with seasoned instructors and up-to-date safety equipment.

Phoenix Museums

Downtown areas in and around Phoenix feature a variety of museums to explore. Walking around a museum can clock a lot of steps, and children’s museums allow kids to play.

Posted in Blog on June 14th, 2017

How to Prevent the Summer Slide

Summer learning loss results in students forgetting weeks to months of reading and math curricula. Teachers spend weeks making up for the summer slide by reviewing material, instead of progressing to build on grade level knowledge. Some school districts throughout the country have done away with summer break altogether in order to improve academic retention.

However, old habits die hard. Summer vacation arose from the need for children to help their families with farm labor. Like Daylight Savings, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for us. But, since we do have summer vacation, by all means enjoy it! Keep these tips in mind to reduce the summer slide effect:

Keep Reading

Summer reading programs have been shown to improve outcomes for students. Phoenix Public Library offers incentives for summer reading. Reading with younger children instills a love of reading while helping them practice and improve language skills. For all ages, reading engages attention without the overstimulating effect of screen time.

Keep Exploring

Speaking of the library, check your local branch for culture passes. Visit local indoor and outdoor destinations. Let your kids use summer as an opportunity to learn new skills and subjects. Got a gamer? Explore programming. Strike a balance between scheduling activities and allowing free play.

Keep Learning

If you’re going on a trip this summer, educational workbooks are one way to pass the time in the car, train or plane. There’s no shortage of educational games, from the oldschool, portable BrainQuest to the wealth of mobile educational game apps you can download on your phone or tablet. When it comes to educational games, just make sure the games have value as more than just a distraction.

Keep Moving

This one is difficult, but not impossible. Plan activities to make sure you don’t give in to the heat wave’s lulling effect. With little ones, you can put on some music and dance. You could take early morning walks, sign up for classes, or plan outings. Exercise has positive effects on mental health and cognition, which is one of the reasons why teachers defend recess and P.E.

Keep Up with Healthy Habits (And Form New Ones)

In addition to exercise, a healthy diet and regular bedtimes improve cognition. Additionally, consider teaching kids how to do age-appropriate household tasks. For example, you can teach them how to plan and prepare healthy meals.

Posted in Blog on June 7th, 2017

Should My Baby Take Swimming Lessons?

As summer begins, you might receive mixed messages about introducing very young children to the pool. Our job is to educate you and your children on the medical community’s findings. We support you keeping your child safe and healthy.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against formal swimming lessons until after a child turns four years old. This is because children younger than four years of age have not yet developed the ability to voluntarily hold their breath.

Please Don’t Dunk Your Baby

For the above reason, you should not dunk your baby. Proponents of dunking argue that it triggers a reflex to hold the breath, but in reality your baby is just as likely to come up sputtering. Drowning is an obvious risk, but even swallowing or inhaling water increases the risk of infection from waterborne illnesses.

Do Babies Breathe Fluid In The Womb?

You should be extremely skeptical of claims that dunking is safe based on the fact that babies develop in amniotic fluid. While this is true, they do not breathe through their nose or mouth during their time in the womb. They take their first breath at birth, and trust us: they really prefer inhaling air after that!

Appropriate Swim Lessons for Babies and Toddlers

That said, infants and toddlers love to play in the water. It’s okay to let them. Appropriate swim lessons for infants will require parents to participate. The water temperature will be comfortable, and the instructor will teach you about pool safety while your baby practices strokes, splashes and kicks.

Read more about pool safety on our blog. No matter how old your child is, proficiency during swimming lessons cannot completely eliminate drowning risk. Factors like exhaustion, illness, rough play, dangerous running or diving, choppy water and other things swimmers can’t control affect drowning risk too. Knowing how to swim helps, but children should always be under adult supervision near water.

Posted in Blog on May 31st, 2017

The Truth About Fidget Spinners

Diagnosing and treating children with ADHD and anxiety disorders can lead to better academic performance, improved behavior and higher quality of life. So, when a toy hits the market claiming to be a treatment method, and kids love it, what should parents do? School’s out for the summer, and the fidget spinners that irked so many teachers these last few months will soon be whirring away in your home.

Do fidget spinners work to treat ADHD?

There is no research backing this claim. Since the claim is promoted by the people who sell fidget spinners, it should give consumers pause.

There is research supporting the idea that movement can help kids with attention disorders concentrate. However, this study involved spinning in a swiveling chair. No studies have shown these specific types of toys to work.

Do fidget spinners improve focus?

When it comes to fidgeting as a tool to focus on other tasks, children without ADHD experience decreased focus or no significant change in focus. You wouldn’t give Adderall to a kid without a prescription just because it happens to work for a kid with a prescription. Similarly, while children with ADHD could thrive in a multitasking environment, children with the ability to focus on one thing at a time should practice that skill.

Are fidget spinners harmful?

Well, they’re toys. There are certainly more risky ways for kids to entertain themselves. The only harm is when advertisers make medical claims about products that have no scientific basis. If you are concerned about any aspect of your child’s health, please ask your pediatrician for advice. We can provide treatment options with proven benefits and documented risks.

Posted in Blog on May 22nd, 2017

Public Splash Pad Safety Tips

Splash pads are popping up all over the country, and there’s a particular appeal in Arizona. These water playgrounds are usually free to the public, located in parks or outdoor shopping malls. Kids exercise and play with other children — a rare and welcome sight when oppressive heat tends to keep us indoors.

Are Splash Pads Safe?

As with any other activity you share with your kids, knowing the risks can help you minimize them. That way, you can enjoy the benefits instead. Here are some tips for having a safe and fun time at splash pads.

Before You Go to a Splash Park

  • Ask the facility manager how often they test the water, and what methods are used to filter and decontaminate it.
  • Research locations online. If an outbreak has occurred in the past, you will likely find information about it and about how the company responded, if at all.
  • Talk to other parents and ask about their experiences.

At the Splash Pad

  • Use watertight swim diapers. If you suspect your child has a dirty diaper, change it.
  • If your child is potty training, explain why you use the restroom before playing in the water.
  • Use swim shoes to prevent slipping, stepping on sharp objects or burning feet on hot pavement.
  • Enforce the “no running” rule.
  • Do not allow your kids to drink the water.
  • Don’t let your kids put their backsides against water jets.
  • Watch for signs of exhaustion or dehydration, and for unsafe behavior.
  • Take breaks to use the restroom and hydrate.
  • Don’t forget sun protection!

Posted in Blog on May 11th, 2017

What to Do if Kids Are Trapped In a Hot Car

By now, you’ve seen it on the news: Don’t ever leave your kids (or pets) in a hot car. Children are more vulnerable to heatstroke, a deadly condition that occurs when the body becomes too hot to cool itself off again. In 80 degree weather, a car can heat up to deadly temperatures in just 10 minutes. 80 degree weather is positively chilly compared to Phoenix summer highs, making it that much more dangerous to leave kids in parked cars.

Last year, Maricopa County reported zero hot car deaths. We’d like to keep that clean record going. Here are some tips:

  • Make sure sitters and relatives, especially those visiting from cooler climates, understand the very real and immediate danger of leaving anyone behind in the car.
  • Carry a spare set of keys in case you accidentally lock your keys and kids in.
  • Place a reminder such as a stuffed animal in the front seat whenever your children are in the backseat.
  • Even if you’re constantly 100% careful, kids and pets are capable of locking themselves in. These things don’t only happen to other people, so be prepared to calmly respond if it happens to you.
  • If you see kids in a hot car, call 911 first so the paramedics can get there as soon as possible.
  • Break the windows to rescue anyone trapped inside. Aim for the window furthest from the child to avoid injuries from broken glass.
  • If you are unable to break into the vehicle, cover the windows with a thick blanket or other material to slow the heating effect.
  • If there are signs of heat illness, cool children off by spraying or pouring water on their skin. Do not use ice. Do not force unconscious or unalert children to drink water.

For more information and videos you can share, check out Safe Kids AZ.

Posted in Blog on May 4th, 2017

Pool Safety 101

Okay parents, grandparents and guardians, prepare yourself for some truth. We know you’re already worried about a million risks to your child, so we’ll make this quick:

  • In the U.S., drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in children ages 1-4.
  • A child can drown in the time it takes to answer a phone.
  • Of all preschoolers who drown, 70% are in the care of one or both parents at the time of the drowning and 75% are missing from sight for five minutes or less. (Orange County, CA Fire Authority)

Whew. We don’t like scaring you, but it’s so important to realize these pool tragedies and close calls don’t just happen to “somebody else.” Please take our advice so that everyone can relax, have fun and be safe:

  1. Establish Rules. Make sure everyone knows the rules before entering the pool area, and continually enforce them. If you have little kids, you know they don’t always think before they act, so state the obvious (“We don’t push anybody underwater”) before it becomes an issue.
  2. No Swimming Unattended. Install locks on doors and sliding doors high enough to prevent children from heading out to the pool alone. Always shut and lock pool gates and patio doors at apartment complexes and hotels, and at home when pool time is over.
  3. Life Guard Duty Always have at least one adult assigned to watch those in the pool. Don’t assume someone is watching.If there is drinking at a pool party with children, have some designated drivers on lifeguard duty, because alcohol decreases awareness and slows response time.
  4. Swimming Abilities Use the appropriate flotation devices and supervision with children who are still learning to swim. Also, don’t overestimate the abilities of adults who will be supervising children. They will need to be able to rescue a child in case of an emergency.
  5. Use Steps. No diving or running. This prevents injuries from falling on the pool deck as well as reducing the risk of drowning.
  6. Maintain Safety Equipment, including pool drains, covers, ladders, fencing and barriers, locks, first aid kits and rescue equipment.​​​​
  7. Pick Up Toys. Put away pool toys so children don’t go in after them later.
  8. Head Count Always know where every child is. If a child is missing, time is of the essence: always check the pool first, even if you thought he or she was playing somewhere else.
  9. CPR and First Aid Get yourself certified, and post CPR information by the pool as a reminder in case of emergency.
  10. Visit the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona’s website for more tips and resources, including city codes regarding pool safety. These codes apply to your neighbors, too!

Posted in Blog on April 30th, 2017

Avoiding Heatstroke in Arizona

Temperatures are already climbing as summer approaches Phoenix, and even winter days can bring intense heat. Whether you’re visiting a water park in Phoenix or escaping the heat on vacation, it’s time to be extra mindful of heat stroke.

Signs of Heat Exhaustion

Kids have a tendency of playing until they drop, and aren’t likely to notice what’s going on with their own bodies. You’re going to have to help them out by reminding them to drink if they feel thirsty, experience cramps, get sweaty or flushed, or develop a headache. All of these are symptoms of heat exhaustion, which can escalate into potentially deadly heat stroke. More severe symptoms include fainting, nausea and vomiting and fever.

Ideally, you want to avoid heat exhaustion to begin with. If you do notice any of these symptoms or your child complains of them, get them indoors or into the shade. Have them drink water or a sports drink slowly, take off outer layers of clothing and put a cool, wet cloth on their skin.

Signs of a Medical Emergency

Heatstroke is a medical emergency in which the patient can no longer regulate his or her body temperature, resulting in a dangerously high fever. Symptoms of heatstroke are similar to those of heat exhaustion, but more severe. Call for help, get your child out of the sun, apply cool water to the skin and only give them water to drink if they are conscious and alert. They may need intravenous fluids if they can’t keep water down.

Never Leave Children In A Hot Car

Even if you park in the shade, crack the windows and just intend to run in and out of the store quickly, leaving your child in the car is a recipe for tragedy. Temperatures in the 80s can escalate to deadly levels of 130 degrees or higher in just 10 minutes. Here in Arizona, where the outside temperatures already exceed 110 degrees in the summer, it takes only a few minutes.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

We really can’t overstate the importance of hydrating. Drink water at the start of the day, even before activities really begin. Keep water bottles handy, and consider freezing them in advance if you’re going to be out all day (just remember that water expands when it freezes, so leave a little space in the container). Have your kids drink a serving of water before they are allowed to drink juice, sports drinks or soda. You can teach your potty trainers to recognize signs of dehydration in urine: stinky and yellow means you need more water, while clear means you’re doing a good job keeping fluid levels up.

Don’t forget to protect infants and children from the sun, even on cloudy days and in colder climates.

Posted in Blog on April 21st, 2017

Sun Safety for Kids

The warmth of the sun feels good and its mere presence can brighten our mood as well as our day. It provides our bodies with Vitamin D, something we are typically lacking. But the sun can also cause sunburn and skin cancer, and children’s skin is more sensitive than that of most adults. Here are some ways to protect your children from the negative effects of the sun:

Infants

Keep infants out of direct sunlight. If you are breastfeeding your baby and not using formula, your doctor may recommend a Vitamin D supplement.

UV Levels

Be aware of UV Index levels when you’re planning outdoor activities. The highest levels occur between 10am and 4pm. UV rays penetrate clouds, so you still need protection on those rare overcast days.

Sunscreen

Any areas not covered with clothing should be covered with sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Look for water-resistant brands with broad-spectrum protection (UVA and UVB rays). Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes prior to heading outside and again every two hours.

Insect repellent reduces the protection of sunscreen. When using together, choose a sunscreen with a higher SPF.

Clothing

Light, loose shirts with sleeves and pants offer the best protection; however, in southern Arizona we need to balance sun protection with the risk of overheating. Whatever the temperature, have your kids wear a hat that will shade their ears and neck.

Sunglasses

Teach children to wear them when outdoors and take care of them when indoors. They should be classified as 100% UV Protection.

Water

Drink lots of it: not just when you’re outside, but also in the hours preceding outdoor activities. Good hydration prepares your body to cope with the heat.

Posted in Blog on April 14th, 2017

The Latest Crib Safety and Infant Sleep Guidelines

Better Crib Construction

On June 28, 2011, new legislation, HR 5386, went into effect, making it illegal to sell cribs with sides that drop down. This includes secondhand stores and yard sales. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s mandate for cribs manufactured after the law went into effect:

Bans cribs assembled with sides that drop down,

Requires cribs to have stronger supports for the mattress, and

Defines more comprehensive components of the testing protocols which include the integrity of the slats, the crib’s durability, and the strength of the mattress support.

Safety Check for Parents Buying a Crib

Check the rails. They should not drop or be adjustable, but fixed.

To prevent babies from falling through the slats or getting their heads stuck, the slats on the rails should be no further apart than 2-3/4 inches.

Check the mattress by pushing on the center and each side. It should be firm and spring back when you push on it.

The mattress should fit snugly in the crib leaving no room for an infant to get stuck there.

Product Recalls

A recall list is available at www.cpsc.gov. To ensure your child’s safety, always check for recalls and also check on cribs you borrow from hotels or from family or friends. If you buy a new crib, be sure to fill out the recall form and drop it in the mail. They’re usually postage-paid, and the company will send you a notification if their product has been recalled.

AAP Sleep Recommendations for Baby

In 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics released new sleep guidelines for babies in order to prevent sleep-related deaths. These include:

  • Babies should always sleep in a crib or bassinet, not a bed, sofa, armchair or other surface.
  • Co-sleeping is strongly discouraged.
  • Set up the crib or bassinet in the parents’ bedroom, ideally for the first 12 months of baby’s life. This decreases instances of infant death by 50%.
  • For bedding, only use a fitted sheet, and make sure it’s tight. Do not use pillows or crib bumpers. Instead of blankets, keep baby warm with pajamas and (for newborns) a hat.
  • Do not place stuffed animals or toys in the crib. The only item in the crib should be your little one.
  • Place babies on their backs to sleep, not their bellies or sides.
  • Avoid exposing baby to secondhand smoke, including the odor on clothing.

These seem like a lot of rules, and we know they change with every generation. However, all of these recommendations are evidence-based and proven to reduce infant deaths. Save the toys for play time. Your little one will be having sweet dreams, and won’t mind complying with these guidelines at all.

Posted in Blog on April 7th, 2017