If your child’s losing her baby teeth, chances are the Tooth Fairy has paid a recent visit (or five!) to your house. But don’t assume that little ones’ dental hygiene doesn’t matter just because baby teeth are temporary. Actually, cavities in young kids are a serious medical concern. Tooth decay is the most common childhood disease, and it can set kids up for a mouth full of problems in the future. (For the gory details—and how to save your child’s smile—check out “The Fight Against Cavities” in our February issue.) Practice good oral health habits with your kid, and then help other smiles in need by entering Tom’s of Maine’s “Be a Tooth Fairy Hero” sweepstakes. Have your child draw a picture of the Tooth Fairy, and then submit the drawing by March 15th for a chance to win Tom’s toothpaste for your child’s entire school, and a $10,000 donation on your behalf to a needy dental clinic in your state. For more information, visit TomsOfMaine.com/ToothFairy.
Editor’s Note: Parents.com has partnered with LearnVest.com to bring you a monthly series of posts about money-related topics related to moms. These guest posts will be shorter, edited versions of longer features from LearnVest.com.
As a mom, you know just how accident-prone and fragile kids can be. Cuts, scratches, scrapes, skinned knees, and bumps to the noggin’ are all frequent players on your “must fix” list. And there’s nothing worse than having to play Dr. Mom without having all of the needed medical supplies to heal your little patient.
Setting up a first-aid kit now for your home and your car will save time (you can quickly attend to injuries), money (no middle-of-the-night runs to the insanely expensive convenience store), and a whole lot of tears.
Keep these drugstore staples on hand and you’ll be ready for anything your active kid can throw your way.
1. Bandages and Gauze Pads
Your kit should include bandages in a variety of sizes. These little stickies help protect wounds from reinjury, hide scary-looking cuts, and magically make tears disappear. Before you spring for the more expensive character bandages, a little DIY craftiness can save money. Buy plain bandages and then decorate them with your child’s name, silly drawings, or stickers once they’re in use. Gauze pads will come in handy for more serious wounds (don’t forget the tape). You can also use them when applying ointments or cleaning agents. When purchasing gauze pads, bigger is better. You can always cut the pad if you need a smaller size.
Speaking of cutting, a good pair of sharp scissors is a necessity. In addition to cutting gauze, you may also need to cut other material, like clothing, during an emergency. Regular scissors are fine, as long as they’re sharp enough to cut gauze, clothing, etc.
3. Cold/Hot Packs
Hot and cold packs can relieve swelling and reduce the pain of minor injuries. Because you’re not guaranteed to have access to ice or hot water or a heating pad, stock up on the instant cold and hot packs (like this one) that you squeeze to activate.
4. Pain Medication/Fever Reliever
Pain is a big deal to little kids, so it’s always a good idea to have a children’s pain reliever around to reduce fevers and calm headaches, teething pain, and minor sprains and strains. Remember, aspirin isn’t recommended for kids, so the best choices are children’s acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
For kids with food allergies, it can be difficult to make sure no forbidden foods ever slip through. If your child does consume something she has a slight allergy to, an oral antihistamine can reduce a potential reaction, says Emily Tuerk, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. Even if your kid doesn’t have food allergies, it’s still a good idea to have an antihistamine on hand. “Oral antihistamines and topical antihistamine creams can lessen the reaction to insect stings or bites,” says Dr. Tuerk. They can also decrease symptoms of hives, poison ivy, and other skin reactions.
This standard beauty supply isn’t only for plucking stray hairs from your eyebrows. Tweezers come in handy to remove splinters, glass, insect stingers, ticks, or even candy. (You know, for when your 3-year-old decides to put a piece of candy up his nose.)
My elementary school didn’t have a cafeteria, but every Tuesday was pizza day. Drooling students lined up in the hallway clutching dollar bills to pay for a piping-hot pepperoni slice and a little carton of milk. I looked forward to it all week.
Luckily, pizza day was only once per week, and my other four lunches were comprised of healthy sliced fruits, veggies, and sandwiches on whole-grain bread (thanks, Mom). But these days, kids are eating in school more often—and that may mean that they’re gorging on fat-packed foods daily. We discussed the problem of unhealthy school lunches in this article from our September 2010 issue. These unhealthy meals have serious long-term effects—check out our recent story on the childhood obesity crisis. The National School Lunch Program dishes out 31 million lunches per day. This school year, the NSLP’s nutrition standards were updated in accordance with the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Lunches have an age-based calorie cap, and schools are required to limit sodium and saturated fat and serve more fruits, veggies, and whole-grain items. But are they measuring up?
Last week, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine released its eighth School Lunch Report Card evaluating meals served by the National School Lunch Program. Standout schools received high grades for offering veggie-packed side dishes, vegetarian and dairy/egg-free entrée options, and nondairy beverages. (The valedictorian: Pinellas County Schools in Florida, which earned a perfect score.) Schools also garnered points for implementing nutrition education in the cafeteria. Failing grades were assigned to schools that dole out cholesterol-heavy dairy products and processed meats such as hotdogs and pepperoni. Low-scoring districts in Houston and Milwaukee were criticized for serving meals such as chicken-fried steak fingers and breaded catfish.
The good news: healthy lunch options are on the rise. The average grade is a B (84%), up 5% from 2008. Healthier lunch options can help decrease students’ lifetime risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and colorectal cancers.
Looking for healthy meals you can stash in your kid’s lunchbox? We’ve got tons of creative ideas to please even the pickiest eaters.
The option to either donate your baby’s cord blood for public use or to bank it privately is not new, but the practice has been slow to catch on—only about 5 percent of new parents choose to save their newborn’s cord blood. If you don’t bank or donate it, it’ll get tossed as medical waste, but if you choose to save it, it can be used to treat about 80 blood disorders including non-hodgkins lymphoma, sickle cell anemia, and leukemia. What’s more, scientists are currently hard at work exploring whether cord blood stem cells might be helpful in the treatment of stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and type 1 diabetes. But backing up, a little more about the two options:
Donating: Kind of like donating blood, your baby’s cord blood gets put in a public registry and can either be used for research or to help people needing a transplant. This option is free.
Private banking: For a fee (which varies company to company), you can store your baby’s cord blood to be used only if your child or a family member ever needs it.
Unless there’s someone in your family with a medical condition that could benefit from a cord blood transplant, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends donating over banking privately. In most cases, if a child has a condition that could be helped by cord blood stem cells it will already be in the cord blood. Another important thing to note: Banks need to be notified 4 to 6 weeks before your due date if you’re interested in donating.
Intrigued by the option? Have questions? An online “mama-logue” will be taking place Friday, May 11 from 11am to 12pm EST to offer up more information about the two choices, criteria to use in selecting a cord blood bank, options for public donation, and more. Daria Klachko, MD, an ob-gyn at Saint Barnabas Hospital and Short Hills Surgery Center in New Jersey, Charis Ober, founder of Save the Cord Foundation, a nonprofit that provides educational information regarding cord blood preservation, and Lisa Valastro, wife of TLC’s Cake Boss, and a mother of four, will be hosting the webinar, and will be on hand to answer any questions you might have. Click here to register.
One in 150 children in the United States are born with Cytomegalovirus, or CMV, a common virus that can cause permanent medical conditions, disabilities, and even death. What’s even scarier is that only 14 percent of women have heard of CMV—and I’ll be honest, I only recently learned about the virus, which can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus.
CMV, which is spread through bodily fluids like saliva, urine, tears, and blood, is usually harmless. Most people have been exposed to it without even realizing it, and it’s especially common among healthy kids ages 1 to 3. But if you’re infected during pregnancy, it can put your baby at risk of hearing, vision, neurological, and developmental problems.
The good news: there are prevention steps pregnant women and women trying to conceive can take to avoid exposure to CMV, especially if they’re often around young children. And just last week the Senate recommended that more effort be made to inform women of childbearing age about the virus. Let’s help get the word out about this health issue. Pass these prevention tips along to your friends, and find out more at stopcmv.org.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for 15-20 seconds, especially after changing diapers, feeding a young child, wiping a young child’s nose or drool, and handling children’s toys.
Do not share food, drinks, or eating utensils used by young children.
Do not put a child’s pacifier in your mouth.
Do not share a toothbrush with a young child.
Avoid contact with saliva when kissing a child.
Clean toys, countertops, and other surfaces that come into contact with children’s urine or saliva.