Tips for Traveling with Kids this Summer

 

How did anyone ever parent before smartphones? We all know the scenario: a family is sitting at a restaurant eating dinner and a young child gets restless. A parent hands over a phone or a tablet to keep them occupied while they finish their meal and have a nice conversation. This seems innocent enough, but we are learning that when we hand over screens or place a child in front of the TV, we are doing it at the expense of their language and socio-emotional development as well as physical exercise.

Time that a child spends staring at a digital device, or screen time, is time they are not interacting with other people. Learning to bond and interact with others is crucial for children starting at a very early age. Now, I’m not saying that parents need to engage in deep conversations or read books every time they interact with their child. Simple conversations with a young child, even narrating your activities helps. Screen time is a strictly passive activity. Kids are rarely, if ever interacting with a screen in a meaningful way. However, even the most basic of activities, such as building and knocking down towers of blocks, doing puzzles together or scribbling with crayons on a piece of scrap paper (or a napkin) help teach kids cause and effect, and foster human interaction. These are invaluable for stimulating language development and creating a healthy emotional foundation.

A child that has more than the recommended exposure to screens at a young age is more likely to lead a more screen-filled, sedentary lifestyle as a teenager and beyond. This often goes hand in hand with mindless, unhealthy eating. Kids playing video games all day aren’t usually reaching for apples and carrots. People with active lifestyles that include regular exercise and exposure to the outdoors tend to be more physically and mentally healthy in the long run. My recommendation to parents is to turn of the television and put handheld devices away. This is true for both kids and adults. It’s hard to ignore a TV that’s on or a phone that’s blinking with a notification. Parenting without screens is certainly more challenging, especially in the early years, but it’s definitely worth the investment in the long-run. Teaching your child to entertain him/herself without the aid of screens will benefit them throughout their childhood.

So, what are the age-based recommended limitations on screen time? Below are the recommendations from The American Academy of Pediatrics. Remember though that at ALL ages, less is more, especially in preschool/early elementary-aged kids.

Under 2 years of age: No screen time

Ages 2-5: Limit to one hour of screen time per day

Ages 5 and up*: Consistent limitations on screen time, ensuring children have healthy physical activity and sleep schedules as well as personal relationships and interactions.(*Notice this says “and up”. Screen time limitations are for everyone, not just children. It’s important for adults to limit the amount of time they spend plugged-in, not only for their own well-being, but to set a great example for children).

 

For ideas on quality programming and healthier use of devices, chat with your pediatric provider. They will help navigate parenting in an on-demand society.

It's easy to schedule an appointment with your pediatric provider – simply visit our online appointment tool, scroll to find your pediatric provider, and click to schedule an appointment at a time that works for your family!

 

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Tips for Traveling with Kids this Summer

 

Traveling with children in-tow can be, well, stressful. From packing for the family to installing a car seat in your rental car, there’s so much to think about. As summer travel heats up, here are some reminders to help ensure you don’t come back from your family vacation more stressed than when you left.

1. Take it slow.

When traveling with kids allow yourself extra time. It's going to take longer than you think, and you want to do what you can to avoid getting into a stressful situation. Pre-check and plan ahead where you can to avoid waiting in long lines or plan for several stops to stretch fidgety legs along the way.

2. Medications don’t take a vacation.

You know your child and your family, think about what medicines you might need. Bring a first-aid kit, Tylenol or Motrin, Benadryl, sunscreen and of course, any medications prescribed to your child. Before your trip, study-up on any regulations for travel or your destination that might have an impact on bringing your meds.

3. Snacks are a must.

You’ll want to have some healthy snack and drink options for both the kids and the adults in your party. A flight delay or unexpected traffic can leave you with hungry and cranky passengers. Don’t forget to pack hand sanitizer and baby wipes (they aren’t just for babies!).

4. Easy access to essentials.

Medications, snacks, wipes and anything else you or your kids might need along the way should be within an arm’s reach. Bring these essentials in a carry-on, or keep them by you in the car for easy access.

5. Always have a spare.

Diapers leak, drinks spill. Be sure to pack a back-up outfit for your little ones and yourself, and a plastic bag for dirty clothing. Your fellow travelers will thank you.

6. Verify vaccines.

For trips that take you on a plane or out of the country, talk to your pediatric provider about which vaccines your child may need while on-board or abroad.

Bonus Tip:

Once you arrive at your destination, find out where the good coffee is sold! 

If you are planning a trip for your family and have questions about travel guidelines for vaccines or dietary advice, make an appointment with your pediatric provider.

It's easy to schedule an appointment with your pediatric provider – simply visit our online appointment tool, scroll to find your pediatric provider, and click to schedule an appointment at a time that works for your family!

 

Make An Appointment

 

Food Fight

 

It happens to parents of toddlers all the time: you prepare your child’s favorite meal, and place it lovingly in front of them only to watch them hurl the plate to the floor. They loved this meal yesterday, how could they refuse it today? Simply put: toddlers tend to be picky eaters. For parents, this can generate a lot of anxiety about the well being of their child. I’m sharing the advice I give moms and dads in my practice to help avoid a daily food fight around the kitchen table.

Don't sweat it.

Toddlers are developing their food preferences. What they like today they may dislike tomorrow and vice versa. For a week straight, they may request (or demand) only one or two of their preferred menu items. That’s normal. And exasperating. Try to be patient, and avoid getting frustrated. Otherwise, mealtime will turn into a power struggle between you and your toddler, and no one wins. Try to include one or two of your toddler’s preferred menu items for each meal, and offer foods to your child more than once. Today may be the day they decide to love something new!

Think big picture.

Ensuring your toddler gets the nutrition they need is one of the biggest concerns when dealing with a picky eater. Consider your child’s food intake throughout the week, not just day to day or meal to meal. They may gobble up a huge breakfast and then nibble here and there for lunch. They may eat great some days and next to nothing on others. Generally, if your child is consistently growing, they are most likely getting enough calories and protein. If they’re easily moving their bowels on a daily basis, there’s enough fiber in their diet. A hungry toddler will consume more at mealtime, so make it easier on yourself by avoiding snacks and lots of liquids prior to a sit-down meal.

Work together in the kitchen.

Including toddlers in the meal planning and preparation may give them more incentive to try something new, and give them an outlet for their desire to control which foods they are eating. Invite your toddler to help you choose healthy items at the grocery store, pick new recipes or ask them to choose the side dishes for your next meal. Toddlers are eager to help, so allowing them to safely assist in the kitchen with stirring, scooping, sifting, counting and adding ingredients can grow their interest in mealtime. You may even want to surprise them with their own apron and chef’s hat!

Don’t give up!

Very few toddlers eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. When they exclaim “all done!” at the end of their meal, you’ll often find the serving of veggies exactly as you placed it on their plate - untouched. Again, that’s normal. Continue to offer them healthy choices at each meal, and set an example by making healthy choices yourself. Eventually, they will be open to trying new things, and may even come to enjoy those vegetables!

If you are feeling concerned about your child’s diet, make an appointment with your pediatric provider. They can help navigate this stage of life to ensure your little one is getting the nutrition they need to grow and develop.

  

It's easy to schedule an appointment with your pediatric provider – simply visit our online appointment tool, scroll to find your pediatric provider, and click to schedule an appointment at a time that works for your family!

 

Make An Appointment

 

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