Past Issues

Spring 2013

You Are a Key Player on Your Child's Healthcare Team

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When a child is sick or injured, caregivers count on medical experts to make their child well again. But in fact, caregivers themselves are at the center of the healthcare team. In any medical setting - whether a doctor's office or a hospital - you are your child's most important advocate. Your actions can help ensure their safety and well-being.

First, caregivers must speak up. Be sure the healthcare team knows your child's full medical history. Include all allergies, past illnesses, and operations or medical procedures. Tell them what medicines, vitamins and supplements your child takes at home.

If your baby or child is in pain, be sure it is being managed. Pain itself can be harmful, so it must be treated. If your child is not in pain at the moment of the exam, describe the pain they have been having. Be specific. This can help the doctor diagnose an illness or injury.

If you have questions, ask. If possible, have another adult with you who can also ask questions and take notes. This is very helpful, especially if your child is in the hospital. While the doctor is still present, repeat back what you've been told and ask about anything that is unclear.

Know what medicines and treatments your child is getting, and why. In a hospital, nurses will check your child's ID band and explain what the medicine or treatment is for. If they do not do this, ask them to. The same rules apply in a doctor's office when your child receives a shot or a treatment. Always confirm what is being given, and why.

In hospitals, infection is a major concern. Follow all the hospital's safety rules. Wash or clean your hands with sanitizer every time you enter the room, and before you touch your child. Make sure others do the same. Limit the number of visitors, and do not allow anyone who is ill to visit.

Finally, before you take your child home, be sure you understand what you'll need to do to care for them. Go over the written instructions with a nurse. Once at home, if you realize you are unsure about something, call to clarify.

You know your child better than anyone, and you want them to get the best medical care possible. Your child is lucky to have you on their healthcare team!

Visit our Partnering with Us pages to learn more about how patients, caregivers and families work together as a team at Seattle Children's.

Bad Weather? Bring the Action Indoors!

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It's healthy to play and exercise outside in all sorts of weather - but sometimes you need to bring the action indoors. Make it fun! Turn off the heat, throw open the windows, and crank up the music. Young kids will love choosing the tunes as you "buddy up" to count out crunches, push-ups and jumping jacks. Let your child set a timer for bursts of cardiac activity like running the stairs, jogging in place, hula-hooping or jumping rope. Older kids will enjoy having some friends over to exercise with. They may want to dance to loud music, or try a new fitness workout like Zumba or kickboxing. Support their fun and fitness by providing some healthy snacks and drinks.

Check out our Indoor Activity Tool Kit for more ideas for active play.

Coping with a Crying Baby

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As parents, we do everything we can to ensure that our babies are safe, comfortable and content. So when a baby cries for no reason we can detect - and isn't easily soothed - it's tough for everyone. Start with your baby's doctor to see if there's any physical cause. Premature babies tend to cry more, and problems like food allergies and reflux can trigger crying. If physical causes are ruled out, keep in mind that some babies simply cry a lot more than others. Crying is normal, and it won't harm your baby to cry loudly or for long periods. As a parent, you're not doing anything wrong - and yet it's common to feel frustrated and exhausted. So by all means, use safe and healthy ways to cope until your baby outgrows this crying phase. Ask your family and friends for their best baby-soothing tips, and let a trusted caregiver take the baby for awhile so you can relax, get some exercise or enjoy a visit with a friend.

Discipline Tips

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As with most parenting issues, people have different thoughts around how to use discipline as part of teaching and guiding their child. Here are some tips for one approach to disciplining your child.

Start with knowing what to expect from your child based on their stage of development. Then, set rules and limits, and enforce them. Rules should be simple and clear. Safety rules are the most important and are easy for small kids to understand. Finally, there's praise. Praise is really just "catching" your child behaving well, and telling them what you notice.

A quick example: Your 4-year-old is getting too big to sit in a shopping cart, and wants to walk instead of ride. So the new rule is: "You must hold my hand or keep one hand on the cart." The reason for the rule is: "So I know where you are and you don't get lost or hurt." The praise might be: "You are doing a great job staying close to the cart. You are really growing up!"

Every child will forget the rules and test the limits. When this happens, stop the action and state the rule again in a calm, matter-of-fact way, so your child can correct their action. The rules must be enforced, but in a respectful way that matches the situation. So if your child wanders from the cart even after a reminder or two, they must ride for the rest of that visit - but tell them you are eager for them to try walking again next time.

These steps are simple and logical. They work with all ages, and it's never too late to start. There are many helpful books and other sources on the subject, so explore, and find what works best for your family.

River Safety

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Spring weather in the Pacific Northwest sends families flocking to the great outdoors. But if you'll be on or near rivers, use extreme caution. As the mountain snowpack melts, local rivers are icy cold, high and running fast - and the risk of drowning goes way up. If your family will be in boats, everyone must wear a properly fitting life jacket, and be alert for objects in and under the water. If you are camping near a river, keep the kids with you, away from the riverbank. Don't allow swimming or wading. It's far too easy to slip and fall, and be swept downstream in an instant. If your kids are eager to swim, grab the life jackets and take them to a public spot with lifeguards on duty.

Visit our water safety and drowning prevention information to learn more about staying safe in and around the water.

Toddlers and Poisonings

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Toddlers are curious and eager to explore the world - and that means putting everything into their mouths. That's why children ages 1 and 2 are at great risk of poisoning. Pills and liquid medicines are the poisons most often ingested by toddlers, who may mistake them for candy or something sweet to drink. Always keep a close eye on your toddler, and keep medicines where they can't be reached. Store them up high and out of your toddler's view, in a locked cabinet if possible. If you see your child swallow something poisonous, or if you suspect it may have happened, call the Poison Center right away at 1-800-222-1222. Keep this number saved in all your phones, and post it in your home.

Some Truths About Acne

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Acne is common for teens, and tweens as young as 10. Pimples or "zits" cause a lot of misery, and can damage self-esteem. There are myths about what causes acne and how to treat it. In truth, it's caused by hormones and tends to run in families. Chocolate, greasy foods and caffeine don't cause it or worsen it. A suntan won't improve acne, but keeping one's hands off the face and keeping skin clean can help. If your child is bothered by their acne, treatment is needed. For mild cases, over-the-counter products with 2.5% benzoyl peroxide often help. Kids should see a dermatologist if acne starts at a young age, if it appears on their chest and/or back or if it doesn't respond to over-the-counter products.