Posts Tagged ‘summer’

Staying cool in the summer heat

Friday, May 27th, 2016

sunBeing pregnant during the summer can be tough. Pregnancy already causes your body temperature to be a little bit higher than normal. Adding high outside temperatures and humidity can make you feel really uncomfortable.

Here are some tips to help as the summer approaches:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Water is the best choice. Avoid drinks that are high in sugar because they can make you even more dehydrated.
  • If you are exercising outside, try to do so in the morning or evening, when it’s not as hot. Swimming is excellent option for pregnant women. But if the air quality is bad or you have asthma, try to stay indoors.
  • Your skin is more sensitive when you’re pregnant so it’s very important to use sunscreen. A broad-spectrum (protects against UVA and UVB rays) sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher is the best choice. And make sure you reapply it regularly, especially after swimming or sweating.
  • Wear a wide brimmed hat to protect not only your face, but ears and neck. Baseball caps don’t protect as well. And don’t forget your sunglasses! They should block both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Dark colors absorb more heat.
  • Heat can make swelling worse. If you experience swelling in your legs and ankles, avoid standing for long periods of time and try to elevate your feet when sitting or lying down.
  • If you do feel overheated, apply a cool damp cloth to your forehead and back of the neck.
  • If you feel weak, dizzy, or lightheaded, or you’re overly thirsty, stop what you are doing and get inside immediately. Drink some cool water or a sports drink and lie down. If you feel worse or if you don’t feel better within an hour, call your health care provider.
  • Be aware of signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke and contact your health care provider right away if you have any symptoms.

By taking the appropriate precautions to deal with the heat, you can have a fun and enjoyable summer.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Baby it’s hot outside

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

heatExtreme heat can be dangerous. High temperatures, especially coupled with humidity, can cause heat related illnesses. If you live in the northeast, you are familiar with the brutally hot weather we have been experiencing.

Here is what you need to know to stay safe, especially if you are pregnant, have a medical condition, or have a baby or young children.

Know the signs of heat illness and what to do:

Heat cramps

  • Symptoms: Muscle cramps in legs or abdomen (stomach area), with or without sweating.
  • To do: Get the person out of the heat – into an air conditioned room, if possible. Gently massage the cramped muscles. Sips of water are ok unless the person is nauseous.

Heat exhaustion

  • Symptoms: Sweating; clammy but cool skin; cramping; dizziness; nausea and/or vomiting; fainting; weak pulse.
  • To do: Bring the person into a cool room with air conditioning. Let them lie down and sponge them with a cool, wet cloth. Let them sip water slowly. If they continue to vomit, get medical attention.

Heatstroke or sunstroke -This is the most serious of heat illnesses. Call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.

  • Symptoms: confusion nausea; dizziness; a fever; headaches; difficulty breathing; rapid pulse; hot, dry skin, sweating or both. Take steps to cool the person off by loosening or removing clothing, going inside an air conditioned room, or cooling them down with a sponge bath. Do not give water or fluids.
  • To do: Seek medical attention immediately.

Avoid heat illness by being prepared -an ounce of prevention goes a long way:

  • NEVER leave a person of any age or a pet in a parked car, even if the windows are open a little. Children die needlessly this way every year. Do not leave them in a car even for a minute!
    Here are potentially lifesaving tips for never leaving your child in your car.
  • Stay inside, in an air condition room. If you must go outside, do so in the early or late hours of the day when it is cooler. Wear sunscreen. Keep outdoor stays brief.
  • Drink plenty of water all day. Limit drinks containing sugar or caffeine and avoid alcoholic beverages.
  • Eat light foods which are easier to digest.
  • If you must be outside, take time to relax in a shady area or go inside a cool building often.
  • Wear lightweight clothing. This is very important for children – if overdressed, their body temperature can rise to over 105 degrees Fahrenheit in a very short time.
  • Take a cool bath or shower.

Here are more tips on how to keep your child cool and safe in extreme heat, from the AAP.

With a little planning and care, you can stay safe and avoid a serious problem.

Summer safety

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

keeping-your-baby-safe-in-the-sun_rdax_50Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer. If you are pregnant or have little ones at home, there are a lot of safety concerns to think about as the warmer weather approaches.

Food:

Keep these safety tips in mind when preparing foods that are frequently associated with food-borne illness:
• CLEAN: Wash hands and food preparation surfaces often. And wash fresh fruits and vegetables carefully.
• SEPARATE: Don’t cross-contaminate!  When handling raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs, keep these foods and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods.
• COOK: Cook to proper temperature. See the Minimum Cooking Temperatures chart for details on cooking meats, poultry, eggs, leftovers, and casseroles. After you remove meat from a grill, oven, or other heat source, allow it to rest for the specified amount of time. During the rest time, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys harmful germs.
• CHILL: At room temperature, bacteria in food can double every 20 minutes. The more bacteria there are, the greater the chance you could become sick. Refrigerate foods quickly because cold temperatures keep most harmful bacteria from multiplying

Sun:

Sunscreen is important for everyone! During pregnancy your skin is more sensitive to sunlight than it was before pregnancy. The sun gives off ultraviolet radiation (UV) which can increase the risk of skin cancer, give you a bad burn and increase signs of aging.

And a baby’s skin is thin and burns much more easily than an older child’s skin. This is especially true for babies younger than 6 months.

Here’s how you can stay safe in the sun:
• Do your best to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is when the sun’s rays are the strongest. If your baby is younger than 6 months, it is best to keep her in the shade and out of direct sunlight.
• Make sure that both of you wear a hat with a wide brim and sunglasses. Look for sunglasses that have 99 percent UV protection.
• Dress everyone in lightweight clothes that cover arms and legs.
• Wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days. And reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours. If you are at the beach or the pool, reapply more frequently. Water and sand increase sun exposure due to the reflection of the sun off these surfaces.

Water:

Did you know that drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among children between 1 and 4 years old? And it’s the third leading cause of injury-related death among children 19 and under. Here are some tips for keeping your baby safe around the water:
• Never leave your child unattended around water. Babies can drown in as little as one inch of water.
• Avoid all distractions—including your cell phone! Young children need all of your attention when they are near or around water.
• Invest in proper-fitting, Coast Guard-approved flotation devices (life vests). For kids younger than 5 years old, choose a vest with a strap between the legs and head support.
• Learn CPR. It is a great skill to know. You can usually find programs in your community.

Remember these summer safety tips and enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!

Questions?  Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

From summer to school – the big transition

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

preschool classThe transition from summertime to the school year can be a daunting one for any child. For a child with special needs, it can be especially difficult. And, for her parents, this journey can be very stressful and anxiety provoking. Whether your child is returning to preschool or elementary school, there is so much to think about.

In two prior blog posts, I shared tips on how to survive the transition from summer to school, especially if your child has trouble transitioning from one activity to another in his daily life:

•    Re-entry: life after vacation will help you cope with the changes of re-establishing your “old” routine after having been away on vacation. Creating a memory book to document last year’s successful transition to preschool/school will help your child realize that he can do this…again.

•    Summer to September covers topics such as meeting the teacher, changing bedtime hours slowly, making medication adjustments, and learning to cut YOURSELF some slack. If your child has an IFSP, IEP or 504, it is very helpful for your child to meet her teacher and for you to hold planning meetings before school starts. It is also helpful for your child to visit the classroom.

Here are some other ideas to help ease the transition.

Create a “cheat sheet”

The first week of school is hard on teachers, too. One teacher may have 25 students to get to know. To help ease the transition for your child, and to keep it manageable for her teacher, create a “cheat sheet.” This short page of bullets will describe your child’s toughest challenges, and what the teacher can do to help ease the transition. Depending on whether your child has a formal diagnosis, an IEP or a 504 plan, or if she is just extra sensitive to change and transition, a “cheat sheet” can help your child’s teacher deal with the rough patches during the first week of school. It should include certain triggers and the most obvious areas of difficulty.

For example, if your child has sensory issues and hates sudden loud sounds, you might have a bullet that says “Diana has a hearing sensitivity. The popping of balloons, sound of fire drills or kids screaming will cause her to put her hands over her ears or cower underneath her desk.”

Likewise, if your child needs extra time to process speech, you can say “Speak directly and slowly to Diana and wait for her to process your words before expecting her to reply to you. If Diana is quiet, she is processing your sentences. She needs extra time to understand all of your words.”

Keep the page short, with just the most important items listed in bullet form. You want the teacher to be able to know the most important tips without having to read pages and pages about your child. Then, follow-up later in the week and ask for an appointment to have a conversation.

Use a communication journal

Often parents and teachers use a daily communication journal to discuss your child’s day. The teacher or classroom assistant jots down any issues (or achievements) that occurred that day. It is a way for you to learn about your child’s day without depending on your child to tell you. You can then add your own comments about homework issues, sleep problems (which may affect mood or attention span the next day), or achievements that occurred at home. Communication journals are often a part of an IEP, so that both the parent and teacher are fully aware of a child’s day/evening, which will take the guesswork out of figuring out why your child is acting in a particular way. A journal can be a way of identifying small problems before they become big ones.

Be patient

It may sound obvious, but patience is paramount. Heading to school is very, very hard for a child with special needs. The changes in routine, scenery, friends and personalities is a lot to take in! Your child may hold it together while at school and then have an enormous meltdown the moment she gets home. Try to understand that she is coping as best she can and try to have patience.

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started on January 16, 2013 and appears every Wednesday. Click on “Help for your child” and scroll down to view all of the blog posts to date. As always, we welcome your comments and input.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Summer to September

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

going-to-daycareIt is usually hard for kids to adapt to a different schedule. For kids with challenges, it can be…well…even more challenging.

Here are some tips to help you get through the transition from the more carefree days of summer to the structure of the school year – whether your child is in day care, preschool or beyond:

• Meet the teacher and visit the classroom – If your child has an IFSP, IEP or 504 plan, be sure that the teacher is familiar with the plan and is prepared for your child’s arrival. Hopefully, you and your child have already met the new teacher and you feel comfortable with the transition plan. If not, now is the time to ask for an appointment with the teacher or the IEP team. Usually kids with special needs are allowed to visit their classrooms before the first day of school, to help them become familiar with the upcoming change.

• Change bedtime hours slowly – As tempting as it is to let your little one remain outside to take advantage of every moment of daylight in the evening, start winding back his bedtime routine now. If you make changes in quarter hour chunks it will be less of a shock to your child’s system. For instance, if “bath, books and bed” usually began at 8:00 this summer, start the process at 7:45 for a night or two, and then move it to 7:30, etc. Use room darkening shades or curtains that block the light to help your child realize that it is nighttime.

• Create a “special space” – Having a quiet, secluded spot where your little one can go to decompress can be very helpful. It can be in his room or somewhere in your home. It can even be under the dining room table! Often a beanbag chair or a blanket with 2 or 3 pillows, and a few books or special toys will help to calm your child. He can learn to go to his special space to unwind and quiet himself.

• Turn off the computer – There is a time and place for everything. If your child needs help unwinding before bedtime, or when you need to leave the house to go to daycare or school, turn off all electronics. Use a timer if you need to help you with this task. When the timer goes off, then the computer goes off.

• Meds adjustment – If your child needs medication to function at daycare or school (but he was not on the meds during the summer), be sure to talk with his doc about how to start up again. If possible start the meds a few days before school begins, to help with the adjustment and to re-check possible side effects.

• A united front – You and your partner need to agree about your parenting plan. There is nothing more confusing to a little child than hearing “yes” from Mom but “no” from Dad. Try to anticipate issues and arrive at decisions ahead of time (and out of Junior’s hearing), and then stick with the plan.

• Save the worrying – You may be consumed with worry before your little one embarks on a new year in a different class.  Even day care centers may have a different teachers and classrooms each year. Kids with special needs often have extra difficulty adapting to change…but sometimes they surprise you. Your little one may embrace the newness of the classroom or providers and all that worry was for nothing. So, don’t worry until you have to. Kids tend to pick up on a parent’s anxiety. The calmer you are – the calmer your child may be.

• Cut yourself some slack – Let’s face it, even parents have trouble transitioning from summer to September! So, give yourselves a few weeks to fully adjust to the change. And, have plenty of patience (deep breathing anyone?) as you and your child struggle to say good bye to the lazy days of summer.

What has worked for you when your little one faced big changes?

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It began in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. Go to News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions for future topics.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Summer programs for kids with special needs

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

summer-vacation1If your child has an IFSP or an IEP and is receiving services for a developmental delay or a qualifying disability, it may be possible for services to continue throughout the summer months.  This is called Extended School Year services or ESY.  ESY may include continued special education services or related services. It is sometimes possible for a child who does not have an IEP but rather a 504 plan to receive ESY. ESY is based on your child’s individual needs and your state’s regulations.

How is ESY helpful?

For most children, receiving special education or related services during the school year is more than adequate for their needs. But, for other children, the time between June and September is too long a period to go without receiving services. For instance, if your child has a language disability and has been receiving speech therapy, it may be hard to stop services for the summer without fearing that progress won’t continue, or worse, that your child may lose skills.

Extending services throughout the summer months may be appropriate for your child. This may take the form of additional therapy, academic tutoring, summer school, or a special program. It all depends on your child’s individual needs AND the regulations in your state.

Who qualifies for ESY?

Wrightslaw has a great page that tells you what you need to know about ESY services for your child. They emphasize that you need to understand the regulations in your state as well as recent court decisions that would establish a precedence or new procedures which may apply to your child’s situation.  On their webpage, Wrightslaw refers to a great article “Standards for Extended School Year (ESY)” by Nissan Bar-Lev. The author describes the legal basis and standards for ESY as defined by federal courts around the country. It is well worth a read.

Once you understand your state’s regulations, you can discuss your concerns with the IEP team at your next IEP meeting. ESY may or may not be necessary to comply with the requirement that your child receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).

If the IFSP/IEP team (of which parents are members) decides that your child qualifies for ESY services to continue during the summer months, then services would be added to your child’s program on her IFSP or IEP. (Your child’s IFSP or IEP is the document that describes all of the services that she will receive all year, due to her developmental delay or disability. Please refer to my prior post on how to write good IEP goals.)

What else can your child do for the summer?

Whether your child qualifies for ESY services or not, or if you have other ideas for her summer program, you might consider a summer camp for all or part of your child’s summer.  It seems that there is a camp program for every child, with every diagnosis or need. Check out this article on camps for kids with special needs and learn what to look for and questions to ask .

My daughter used to qualify for continued speech therapy sessions during the summer through ESY. Instead of putting her in an academic summer school program with speech therapy sessions during the day, I opted for an artsy kind of day camp at the YWCA (more her style) and kept twice weekly speech sessions early in the morning. This way, she still got her therapy but also had the benefit of an entirely different kind of summer experience.  The school system provided the speech sessions as part of her free and appropriate public education (FAPE), while I paid for the summer camp. The theatrical part of the camp helped her with her communication skills, and introduced her to the world of theater.  It started a lifelong love of drama for her, and she acted in plays in high school and beyond.  Who would have thought that a little girl with a speech disorder would enjoy speaking on a stage! It provided a different way of tackling her speech problems and gave her a much needed shot of confidence. The end result was that her speech skills would increase dramatically in one summer session.

Often dabbling in something different for the summer can open doors for your child that you never thought of!

Bottom line

Be sure to explore all of the options for your child’s summer program. This could be a time to introduce her to new experiences which will only enhance her learning and help her progress. This is the time to be creative and to have fun. When kids are happy, they tend to blossom.

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started on January 16, 2013 and appears every Wednesday. Feel free to go back to look at prior posts as the series builds on itself. As always, we welcome your comments and input.

Summer treats

Friday, July 13th, 2012

popsicle4This summer my kids and I have been really into popsicles.  It has been so hot that we seem to be craving something that is a little lighter than ice cream.   And lately the fruit has been really delicious.  Here are a few of our favorite recipes:

Strawberry sunrise
Orange juice
Plain Greek yogurt (non-fat or2%)
Strawberries (fresh or frozen)

That’s it.  Just blend them together and put into molds.  You can vary amounts and ingredients to your liking.  I have been thinking that using peaches would be delicious.  I always just eyeball the amounts, depending on how many I want to make.  And I often enlist my little taste-testers to tell me what they think.  Fortunately for me, they are always brutally honest!  Also a little secret—I have actually served these for breakfast.  The kids think it is great and the popsicles are pretty healthy.

Another yummy one we tried recently was blackberry popsicles:
Blackberries (again fresh or frozen will work)
Raw sugar
Lime juice

Into the blender and then the molds.  These were really good and my kids loved them.  You can decide how much sugar based on how tart the fruit is and how sweet you like them.  Next I am going to try a raspberry-lime variation.  Also, fruit that may be past its prime (maybe a little too mushy to eat) is really good for these treats. 

If you don’t have any fancy popsicle molds around don’t worry.  Ice cube trays or those small paper cups work really well too.

Of course, frozen bananas are always good.  And you can even melt some chocolate chips, dip them, and then freeze if you want to be really decadent.

Looks like this summer is going to continue to be a scorcher, so stay cool!

Keep it safe-BBQ tips

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

Memorial Day is the traditional start of summer. What are your plans? Beach? Pool? Family BBQ? With all the parties and BBQs going on this weekend, I want to highlight some of the things we need to think about whether we are hosting or being a guest. For starters:  not all foods are safe for pregnant women. You know this already. But think about it in terms of a BBQ. Potato, macaroni or other mayonnaise based salads need to be kept cold. If you are eating outside put out small quantities and keep it on ice. Keep cold things cold. Meats should be cooked as they are needed and eaten piping hot from the grill. Eat hot things hot. Do not eat any meat raw, rare or even medium. You need to cook it long enough to kill the bacteria. If you are one of those people that need to measure things, hamburger should be cooked until a meat thermometer reads 160F. No raw or lightly cooked eggs in dressings such as Caesar either. Leave no food out for more than 4 hours. After that it should be thrown out. If you are offering a green salad, make sure to wash all the vegetable and fruits before assembly. Try to get domestic produce if possible. Imported produce often has higher levels of pesticides than that grown in the US.

If you are pregnant, no alcohol for you and limit you soda intake too. I am sure there will be juices and water in the beverage tub.

I hope to have a barbecue if the rain holds off. One of my guests is newly pregnant and another is a new mom. To make sure they enjoy the meal along with everyone else, I am planning on grilled veggies, Indonesian beef skewers, a rice salad and some fresh fruit and sorbet.  Sound yummy?

Whether you are eating exotic cuisine or burgers and potato salad it is important to keep it safe.  What are you doing this weekend?