Author Archive

Is This the Booster Seat of the Future?

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Car seats are often a confusing hassle for parents. They’re bulky and difficult to install, and let’s not even get started on coordinating them when you’re carpooling with other families. (If you’re stuck, our installation guide can help!)

Thankfully, new innovations are making car seats simpler and more convenient every year. Last week, we covered a new car seat that can protect babies from being left in hot cars. In addition, we recently got to check out the Mifold, a cool booster seat that’s currently in development and will hopefully be released by the end of the year (assuming it passes all its final US safety tests). Instead of lifting your kid up, the Mifold brings the seatbelt down to keep him safely secured. It’s about ten times smaller than a regular booster, so you can actually fold it up and tuck it into your purse or your child’s backpack (solving those pesky carpool dilemmas after school!) Plus, it’s barely visible when a child sits on it, so older kids don’t have to feel embarrassed about being in a booster seat in front of their friends. For a more in-depth look, check out this video:

Intrigued by this revolutionary new idea? Mifold is currently running a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo for those who want to preorder at a discounted price. As I’m writing this, they’ve already raised over $293,000–that’s 734% of their goal. There’s the proof that parents want better, easier car seats and booster seats. Let’s hope that the manufacturers continue to come up with inventive ways to keep kids safe.

Chrisanne Grise is an assistant editor covering kids’ health at Parents. Follow her on Twitter @xanne.

Add a Comment

Should Camp Counselors Be Allowed to Put Sunscreen on Kids?

Monday, July 6th, 2015

When I was little, I absolutely loved going to summer camp. My friends and I spent hours playing tag, making crafts, and exploring the woods of New Hampshire (with adult supervision, of course!) In fact, some of my favorite childhood memories now come from those hot July afternoons.

So I was saddened to see this news story about counselors at summer camps who aren’t allowed to apply sunscreen to the kids. They can only remind the campers to put it on, and “guide them in the process.” This is going on in several different states; for example, some Colorado camps say that staff members are only allowed to apply soap, water, or Band-Aids—and that’s it. Maryland had a comparable policy, but enough complaints from parents (and the American Academy of Dermatology) forced the state to change the rules—now parents must sign a permission slip to allow counselors to apply sunscreen to their kids. This is also the case in New York, but it turns out many of these camps don’t understand the rules. Even crazier: Before 2013, New York state law prohibited children from carrying sunscreen at school or camp, because it was considered a drug. Now, the policy requires that parents send in written permission for kids to be allowed sunscreen.

I do understand the fear behind these rules. The last thing camps want is for inappropriate touching to happen, so it’s easiest to just completely ban the behavior all together. Then there will be no parental complaints (or lawsuits) to worry about.

It’s a nice thought, but I don’t think these camps and lawmakers factored in the complaints they’d get from parents when their children come home with sunburns all over. How could a 5-year-old child be expected to make sure she covers her whole body with sunscreen? Even as an adult, I can struggle with reaching all my exposed skin, after all. The likelihood that a child will suffer a serious burn is far greater than the risk of any inappropriate conduct—and it only takes one blistering sunburn to potentially double her lifetime risk of melanoma. To me, that’s not worth it. These kids need an adult to help them with sunscreen, end of story.

If your child goes to a camp that won’t help him with sunscreen, it seems that your best bet is to make a stink about it. Let them know that these policies are dangerous. I’m encouraged by the fact that some of these states have been listening to the complaints and switching to permission slips instead of outright bans. Hopefully next summer, we’ll be hearing far fewer of these stories.

Baby Care Basics: Baby Sunburn Treatment
Baby Care Basics: Baby Sunburn Treatment
Baby Care Basics: Baby Sunburn Treatment

Chrisanne Grise is an assistant editor covering kids’ health and entertainment at Parents. She wishes she could still go to summer camp. Follow her on Twitter @xanne.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Add a Comment

Bill Nye’s Advice for Teaching Kids About Science

Monday, June 15th, 2015

When I was in elementary school, I was really into science. I was convinced that I was going to become an astronaut, and I promised my mom that I was going to bring our whole family on my spaceship so we could all explore the universe together. But as I grew older, I started to lose enthusiasm for the subject. Everyone seemed to focus on how difficult science could be, and many of my teachers failed to make the lessons interesting. (I distinctly remember spending several weeks learning about soil—while I’m sure that’s a fascinating topic for some people, it did not capture the attention of our middle school class.) By the time I made it to high school, I somehow still managed to get good grades in physics and chemistry, but I no longer felt like I truly understood most of it. (There is a happy ending for me though: I ended up with the most enthusiastic biology professor in college, and I realized that I was smarter than I gave myself credit for.)

Unfortunately, science education is rapidly declining in elementary schools, averaging just 2.3 hours a week. It bums me out that a huge number of children are going to end up feeling discouraged just like I did. And science is a huge part of our daily lives, from the weather outside to the smartphones in our pockets, so we can’t afford to raise a generation that doesn’t understand it or isn’t interested in it. What can parents do to ensure that their kids end up with a thorough grasp of the subject? I spoke with Bill Nye the Science Guy, the man largely responsible for piquing my interest in science way back in the day. “I have all the answers,” he jokingly reassured me. “Listen to me and we’ll solve all the world’s problems.”

All kidding aside, Nye does have some great ideas for encouraging a scientific curiosity for your little one—and you can use most of these tips all summer long, too.

  1. Let your kid try out a hands-on activity every week. This could be trying an experiment in the kitchen, testing out a pair of binoculars, or playing with a new learning toy. (Nye is currently working with Sylvan Learning, who released new EDGE programming designed to offer kids the opportunity to explore STEM through coding, robotics and more.) “There’s no substitute for doing it yourself,” Nye says. “Just make sure that cleaning up after is part of the adventure!”

  2. Insist on science every day in every grade. That may mean reaching out to your child’s teacher, volunteering to help out in class, or even just donating some supplies to the school. If your child still isn’t getting enough science education, it’s even more important for you to make sure he’s developing a healthy curiosity through his after-school activities.

  3. Start teaching him about algebra earlier. (Yes, it sounds scary, but we’re just talking about the basics here!) “Most people aren’t exposed to algebra until seventh grade, and ideally we want them to be doing it in third or fourth,” Nye says. “Start explaining how letters can represent numbers early on, so it’s not as difficult to comprehend when he gets to middle school.”

  4. Relax! Kids will naturally want to mess around and experiment, so your job is to stay out of their way, Nye says. “You want your kid to learn about magnets? Give her magnets and go do something else. You want her to learn about electricity? Give her a flash light. She’ll figure it out.”

    Mad Scientist Birthday Cake
    Mad Scientist Birthday Cake
    Mad Scientist Birthday Cake

    Chrisanne Grise is an assistant editor covering kids’ health and entertainment at Parents. She always looked forward to watching Bill Nye the Science Guy in elementary school. Follow her on Twitter @xanne.

    Photo courtesy of Sylvan Learning

Add a Comment

Red Nose Day Is Almost Here!

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

 

Over the past few weeks, you may have noticed a lot of ads featuring celebrities wearing goofy red noses. (That’s some of our staff modeling them above!) If you’re like me, the promos caught your attention and left you wondering what this Red Nose Day was all about. Here’s everything you need to know:

Tomorrow night (Thursday, May 21), starting at 8 pm EST, NBC is airing a live three-hour telethon to raise money for a variety of charities that help kids living in poverty. (The Children’s Health Fund is a staff favorite here at Parents, but proceeds will benefit plenty of other wonderful organizations such as Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Feeding America, and United Way.) The program will feature plenty of comedy, videos produced by Funny or Die, musical performances, and dozens of Hollywood’s big stars, so you can actually feel good about chilling on the couch while watching TV. This is the first Red Nose event here in the US, but it has become a popular tradition in the UK. (To date, they’ve raised over $1 billion over the past 30 years!)

Sounds like fun, right? Aside from watching Red Nose Day tomorrow, there are some other ways you can get involved. Red noses are being sold for just $1 at Walgreens and Duane Reade stores around the country, so pick up a few and snap a selfie with your family or coworkers. You can also set up an online fundraising page or host a bake sale with your kids and donate whatever you earn to the cause. And if you’re able to contribute, even a small donation can make a difference. For more ideas on how to participate, check out RedNoseDay.org.

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the many faces you can expect to see during tomorrow’s program:

Chrisanne Grise is an assistant editor covering kids’ health and entertainment at Parents. Follow her on Twitter @xanne.

Add a Comment

Should Kids With Lice Be Allowed in Schools?

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

It’s never a pleasant topic to discuss, but we need to talk about head lice.

When I was young, I caught the tiny pests from another kid at daycare. I wasn’t particularly close with this girl, so I’m confident that we weren’t sharing hats or rubbing our heads together, but somehow, I ended up with lice anyway. This was years ago now, but my mom still shudders when she thinks about it. Because naturally, my sister caught them too, and my poor mother was forced to spend hours washing and combing out our long hair. And it wasn’t easy for me either—she bagged up all my stuffed animals for two weeks! (Experts have since determined that those grueling days without my plush friends weren’t necessary, as lice can’t survive without human blood. So even worse, my suffering was all for nothing!) Needless to say, the head lice era was a dark time in my family’s history.

I was interested to hear that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has just updated their guidelines, saying that kids with lice should not be banned from school. Instead, the child should finish out the school day, be treated and then return to class the next day. Experts are reminding parents that lice are not a serious health hazard or a sign of poor hygiene—just a nuisance that can be dealt with.

I’m feeling a little conflicted about this. On one hand, I obviously trust that the experts know what they’re talking about, and I don’t necessarily believe that a child should be banned from school until every last bug is gone. But what if someone had forced that kid from my daycare to stay home? My whole family would have been a whole lot happier, I can tell you that much. Sure, lice won’t ruin your life—but they will be a massive pain to your family while they’re kicking around. (“Nuisance” is way too gentle of a word in my mind.) It seems to me that keeping your child out of school until you’ve gotten things under control is a reasonable request. Let’s just hope that no matter what the school policy is, parents will use common sense about when a child should stay home, much like with colds or other mild illnesses.

Tell us what you think: should kids with lice be allowed in school?

How to Identify and Treat Lice
How to Identify and Treat Lice
How to Identify and Treat Lice

Image courtesy of Shutterstock 

Chrisanne Grise is an editorial assistant at Parents. Follow her on Twitter @xanne.

Add a Comment