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HEALTHY LIVING

Fueling those summer adventures

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(Family Features) Summer is the time to get outside and remember the importance of outdoor activities that can be enjoyed as a family. Encouraging children at an early age to participate in outdoor exploration can help foster lifelong skills.

For example, research published in the “International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health” found associations between nature exposure and improved cognitive function, brain activity, blood pressure, mental health, physical activity and sleep. What’s more, kids who play and take part in outdoor adventures learn skills like problem solving, according to the American Academy of Pediatricians.

However, for many families with little ones, this summer might be their first foray into activities like exploring playgrounds or enjoying backyard campouts.

Opportunities to be more active outdoors bring obvious benefits. With that in mind, it’s important that families embark on these activities with the proper fuel.

All the energy kids burn playing outdoors and taking on new adventures can work up an appetite, making it an opportune time to introduce new foods. It might even be a little one’s first time trying seasonal fruits and veggies that can help nourish family playtime.

“A healthy curiosity and freedom to explore are essential ingredients for successful adventures, but fueling all of that fun is equally important,” said Sarah Smith-Simpson, PhD, principal food scientist at Gerber. “Kids need well-balanced nutrition from a variety of sources to fuel their summertime play.”

Ensure your family is ready to make memories and enjoy the exciting adventures ahead with these tips from Smith-Simpson:

Get Colorful with Fruits and Veggies
Serving a rainbow of colors with an assortment of fruits and veggies means nutrient-rich snacks that are equal parts flavorful and fun. One of the best parts about fruits is they’re easily transportable to bring along for warm days exploring a nearby park. They’re perfect for a quick snack on the go – just cut them according to your child’s age and developmental stage to avoid hazards like choking then pack them in a small cooler to keep from spoiling. For preschool-age children, a variety of fresh produce can help them practice color recognition while enjoying favorite flavors. Stocking your refrigerator and pantry with apples, oranges, bananas, green and purple grapes, blueberries, blackberries and more allows children to explore a world of nutrition with bright colors that catch their attention.

Pack Plenty and a Variety of Snacks
It’s the time of year when infants and young children need extra fuel for playtime, making it important for parents to offer a variety of nutritious foods and flavors. A key part of inspiring exploration in young children begins with nutrient-rich snacks that help fuel their adventures. Introducing diverse foods can help expand palates and provides a wide range of nutrients to support the entire family.

When introducing foods into a child’s diet, consistency is key. Experts say babies may need to try a new food up to 10 times before they like it. With a variety of Clean Label Project-certified snacks, Gerber offers solutions you can incorporate into little ones’ diets and bring along for family fun. Some snacks to consider for ages 12 months and over are toddler pouches in Apple Mango Strawberry and Banana Blueberry. For babies in the crawling stage, consider Lil’ Crunchies Mild Cheddar snacks.

Hydrate on the Go
Avoid dehydration by ensuring you’re bringing enough water for the entire family on all your summertime trips, whether they’re around the block or across the country. Use refillable bottles for mom and dad, and for little ones, be sure to pack non-spill sippy cups for toddlers that help avoid messes. Fill a larger container with clean water from home you can use to refill everyone’s cups, bottles and canteens to stay hydrated throughout the day.

Find more family-friendly resources, including recipe ideas, meal planning tips and guidance on age-appropriate food introductions, at gerber.com/parenttalk.

Photos courtesy of Shutterstock


SOURCE:
Gerber

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HEALTHY LIVING

Stay safe, healthy during and after emergencies

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4 tips to prepare for natural disasters that can negatively impact physical and mental health

(Family Features) As you’re making your emergency preparedness checklist, it’s also important to protect your heart and overall health in the wake of a hurricane, tornado or other natural disaster.

The experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predict an above-average Atlantic Ocean hurricane season for the seventh year in a row. Research shows it’s not only physical devastation that impacts the health and safety of people in the path of a natural disaster.

In fact, in a study presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2021 Scientific Sessions, researchers found there were higher rates of high blood pressure, obesity and pre-diabetes among survivors of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico in 2017, as well as increased incidences of heart disease and stroke two years after the storm compared to two years prior to the hurricane.

It’s not only hurricanes that can have a negative impact on cardiovascular health. A study published in the journal “Hypertension found a significant increase in blood pressure levels and the incidence of high blood pressure among people who were forced to evacuate following the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2012.

Gustavo E. Flores, M.D., a member of the American Heart Association’s Emergency Cardiovascular Care committee, said there are several factors that may lead to increased cardiovascular disease and risk after a natural disaster.

“During and after a storm, many people experience extreme stress and trauma, which research shows can lead to an increase in cardiovascular disease risk,” he said. “The impact can be more intense for heart disease and stroke patients. Additionally, in the aftermath of a significant natural disaster, property destruction and evacuations affect many basic support resources. This can make it challenging to see a health care professional for routine check-ups or refill or adjust medications, especially for more vulnerable populations.”

Flores, chairman and chief instructor for Emergency & Critical Care Trainings, LLC, said it’s important for people to be prepared and plan ahead. Consider these quick tips from Flores and the American Heart Association, which is celebrating 100 years of lifesaving service as the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all:

  • Take time to write down any medical conditions, allergies and medications, including doses and the time you take medications, along with your pharmacy name, address and phone number. Keep the information with any other “go-kit” items you have handy for quick evacuation.
  • If you need to evacuate, even temporarily, bring your medications and health information with you in a resealable plastic bag to help keep it dry.
  • If your medication is lost, damaged by water or was left behind when you evacuated, research open pharmacies and seek a refill as quickly as possible. Some states allow pharmacists to make medically necessary exceptions on certain types of prescription refills during an emergency.
  • Use the Patient Preparedness Plan if you have diabetes and use insulin. There you’ll find a checklist of supplies and guidelines to prepare for an emergency.

Another way to prepare for a possible medical emergency is to learn how to perform hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and how to use an automated external defibrillator until help arrives. If performed correctly, CPR can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.

Visit Heart.org for the latest on heart health and the Disaster Resources page for a wide range of helpful information.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock


SOURCE:
American Heart Association

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Nurturing the mental health of young children

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(Family Features) The earliest years of children’s lives lay the foundation for their social and emotional well-being, setting the stage for success in school and beyond. For parents, caregivers and educators, it’s crucial to prioritize and nurture the mental health of children in their care.

Dr. Lauren Loquasto, senior vice president and chief academic officer at The Goddard School, and Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and member of The Goddard School’s Educational Advisory Board, share this insight and guidance to support children’s mental well-being.

Understanding Mental Health in Young Children
Mental health influences how everyone – including young children – thinks, feels and behaves, impacting the ability to cope with stress, build relationships and navigate life.

The development of mental makeup is influenced by both nature (inherited genetic and biological factors) and nurture (environmental factors). Each person is a combination of a unique temperament combined with life experiences, including family, culture and education.

In young children, there is no distinction between mental and physical health. The brain and body are growing and developing rapidly. By 6 months, children can begin to feel overwhelmed by negative experiences. It’s vital to understand that the earliest interactions with children can have lasting social and emotional consequences.

Causes for Concern
When it comes to young children’s mental health, there’s no straight line dividing expected and worrisome behaviors. That line is wiggly and can shift. That said, it’s always concerning when children fall off their developmental tracks.

Infants are expected to partake in “serve and return” activities. They provide signals about how they feel or what they need and caregivers respond to those cues. When those signals stop and the child becomes exceedingly passive, that’s a concern.

Toddler troubles are among the most difficult to diagnose. Many are familiar with the concept of the “terrible twos;” deciphering between developmentally appropriate and worrisome behaviors can be challenging. Signs of concern – especially if they occur constantly – include excessive aggressiveness, a consistent lack of control and screaming instead of talking.

For pre-kindergarteners and kindergarteners, tantrums should be over. They should be interested in making friends and mastering their vocabulary and language. If they aren’t displaying interests or are exhibiting a lack of self-regulation, such as hurting others or animals, seeking help is appropriate.

Seeking Help
If concerns are identified, parents should contact their pediatric care provider. In some cases, they may recommend seeking assistance from a mental health provider, such as a therapist. Selecting the right provider – one with training and experience with working with children – is essential. Lean on your network, including your pediatric care provider, friends and family, to identify the best option.

Supporting Early Social and Emotional Development

  1. Understand your child’s behavior – particularly if they aren’t verbal – is their way of communicating. Narrate what your child is experiencing and label emotions. For example, “I see you’re angry. Can I help you put your shoes on?”
     
  2. Model social and emotional self-control. For example, “I’m frustrated. I’m going to pause, take deep breaths then tell you what I need.” This gives children coping techniques they can practice themselves.
     
  3. Be a good example. Model, for instance, how to be a good friend, show respect and use good manners.
     
  4. Partner with your child’s teachers. There should be two-way dialogue presenting potential concerns.
     
  5. Don’t rush to diagnose issues. Remember children save their “toxic waste” – big, negative feelings – for their parents because they trust them. Your experiences with your child may be different than others’ experiences. Be cautious to avoid a quick reaction. Work to understand what your child is trying to convey. Seek information from others.
     
  6. If a child is exhibiting anxious behavior, which is normal when encountering new situations, be present, listen, observe, answer questions, label emotions and provide reassurance. Don’t overreact to fears. Young children are learning to deal with the unknown and, just like learning to ride a bike, it takes time and comfort to develop the skills to manage those emotions.

To watch a webinar featuring Loquasto and Pruett providing additional guidance, and access actionable parenting insights and resources, visit the Parent Resource Center at GoddardSchool.com.

Photos courtesy of Shutterstock


SOURCE:
The Goddard School

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HEALTHY LIVING

Tips for summer water safety

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(Family Features) Drowning is a leading cause of death for children ages 1-4, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During the summer months, when water activities are more prevalent, drowning is more common, according to the National Safety Council.

Extreme heat may increase incidents of cardiac arrest and an average of 33 drownings occur in the U.S. each day, one-third of which are fatal. To protect your loved ones when playing in and around water this summer, keep these tips from the American Heart Association in mind:

Never swim alone. Children always need supervision, but even adults should swim with a buddy so someone can call for help if an unexpected problem arises. Swimmers can get cramps that hinder movement in the water and slips and falls can happen to anyone.

Wear protective devices. U.S. Coast-Guard-approved life jackets provide the best protection for someone who is in the water and unable to safely reach solid footing. When on a boat, all passengers should wear life jackets in case of an accident, and young and inexperienced swimmers should wear one any time they’re near water.

Choose your swimming location wisely. Avoid unknown bodies of water where hazards such as tree limbs or rocks may be hidden below the surface. Also avoid waterways with strong currents, such as rivers, that can easily carry even the strongest swimmers away. Instead, choose swimming pools and locations with trained lifeguards on duty.

Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). In the event of a drowning, no matter the age, the American Heart Association recommends rescue breaths along with chest compressions to keep oxygen circulating to the brain. Only 39% of those who participated in a consumer survey said they are familiar with conventional CPR and only 23% know about Hands-Only CPR.

Consider these ways to learn CPR and join the Nation of Lifesavers as an individual, family, organization or community.

  • Watch online. Learn the basics of Hands-Only CPR by watching an instructional video online. Hands-Only CPR has just two simple steps:
    1. Call 911 if you see someone suddenly collapse.
    2. Push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of a familiar song with 100-120 beats per minute, such as “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees.
       
  • Immerse yourself. Through a virtual reality app, you can learn how to perform Hands-Only CPR and use an automated external defibrillator (AED) then put your skills to the test in real-life scenarios.
     
  • Learn at home. Learn basic lifesaving skills in about 20 minutes from the comfort and privacy of home with CPR Anytime kits. The Infant CPR Anytime program is for new parents, grandparents, babysitters, nannies and anyone who wants to learn lifesaving infant CPR and choking relief skills. The Adult & Child CPR Anytime Training kit teaches adults and teens Hands-Only CPR, child CPR with breaths, adult and child choking relief and general awareness of AEDs.
     
  • Take a course. Get a group together and find a nearby class to learn the lifesaving skills of CPR, first aid and AED.
     
  • Turn employees into lifesavers. Help make your workplace and community safer one step at a time by committing to CPR training for your employees or coworkers.

Visit heart.org/nation to access more summer safety resources and find a CPR course near you.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock


SOURCE:
American Heart Association

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