Keep Kids Safe on Playgrounds

Spring is here, calling kids to local parks and playgrounds. While offering a ton of fun, playgrounds are often the setting for unintentional childhood injuries, particularly during the warmer months. Falls and strangulation account for the majority of injuries.  Follow these simple tips for a fun play date with your little ones!

  • Always maintain both eye and voice contact whenever your child is using playground equipment.
  • Check out the playground in advance for hazards such as rusted or broken equipment and dangerous surfaces.
  • Avoid playgrounds with asphalt, concrete, grass or soil surfaces underneath the equipment. Look for shredded rubber, hardwood fiber mulch or chips, or fine sand. The surface should be at least 12 inches deep and extend a minimum of six feet in all directions around the equipment.
  • Always remove hood and neck drawstrings from your child’s outerwear to avoid the possibility of strangulation.
  • Never allow your child to wear a bike helmet, necklace, backpack, purse, or scarf while using playground equipment.
  • Do not allow pushing, shoving, crowding and inappropriate use of equipment.
  • If your child is hyperactive, avoid overly crowded parks or playgrounds.
  • Bring along an emergency kit that includes special medications or supplies your child may need.
  • Make sure to practice sun safety to avoid nasty sunburns!

Make Healthy Habits A Priority

March is National Nutrition Month – a great opportunity to get your family to focus on making informed food choices and developing sound physicial activity habits. CHOC Children’s recommends these simple, everyday tips to get your family to start thinking about healthier choices:

  •  Cut out snacks with little nutritional value, like potato chips, cookies or candy.
  •  Offer whole-grain crackers, low-fat cheese, yogurt, fruits and vegetables.
  • Limit soda and sugary fruit drinks. Try skim milk or water instead.
  • Serve fruit as a dessert.
  • Encourage your kids to get outside and play.
  • Walk with your family instead of driving to visit friends or run errands in the neighborhood.
  • Try working in the garden together or going for a bike ride.

For more nutrition tips from the experts at CHOC, check out this article:

Sun Safety Tips Parents Should Know

Spring break is just around the corner for kids in OC — a great time for families to enjoy the outdoors! To keep your family safe in the sun, check out these tips from Dr. Leonard Sender, medical director of the CHOC Cancer Institute. 

  • Wear sunscreen. Choose one with a SPF of at least 30. Apply about 30 minutes before exposure and reapply often.
  • Avoid the sun during peak hours. Try to limit your time in the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Most sun damage occurs during day-to-day activities.
  • Cover up. Have your child wear a hat, sunglasses, and protective clothing. Stay in the shade whenever you can.
  • Keep your baby out of the sun. Because infants have thinner skin and underdeveloped melanin, their skin burns more easily. Keep them out of the sun whenever possible.
  • No tanning oils or tanning beds! Tanning increases the risk of melanoma and accelerates skin aging. Talk to your kids about the effects of tanning.
  • Stay cool. A long day in the sun can make your child feel drained or irritable. In extreme cases, it can cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Make sure your family drinks plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Sun safety starts with you. Teach your kids the steps to reducing sun exposure. If learned early on, these precautions can stick with your children for a lifetime.

Vaccines Are Necessary and Effective

An article published by the New York Times this week, reported that a new study found that although most parents believe that vaccines protect their children against disease, one in four think some vaccines cause autism in healthy children. Additionally, nearly one in eight have refused at least one recommended vaccine.

Vaccines are necessary — and effective, says Maria Tupas, M.D., medical director of the CHOC Primary Care Clinics. “For more than 50 years, vaccines have saved the lives of millions of children,” she says. “Most childhood vaccines are 90 percent to 99 percent effective in preventing disease. And if a vaccinated child does get the disease, the symptoms are usually far less serious.”

Dr. Tupas explains that the alleged link between the MMR vaccine and autism has been vigorously studied and disproved by extensive and well controlled studies, including those by the Institute of Medicine and Centers for Disease Control.  Current research on autism points to multiple factors, including the possibility of a genetic component or exposure to toxins or viruses during pregnancy. The increase in autism diagnoses may be at least partially attributed to pediatricians simply becoming better at recognizing symptoms at earlier ages.

As children with autism spectrum disorders benefit from early intervention and behavior modification, Dr. Tupas advises parents concerned about possible symptoms to contact their pediatrician.

For more information on this critical topic, check out this Kids Health article with Dr. Tupas:

Helmet Safety Guidelines Parents Should Know

March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month – a great opportunity for parents to speak to their children about helmet safety! For helpful tips from CHOC neurosurgeon William Loudon, M.D., please click here:

For more information – including a helmet safety sheet you can share with your kids – please go to our CHOC Health Library:

March Is National Nutrition Month

Are you frustrated because your kids aren’t eating more fruits and vegetables? “Just keep trying,” recommends Sue Freck, R.D., a CHOC registered dietitian. You may have to serve a new food as often as 10 times before your child will show any interest in it!

Freck says pleasurable associations with shopping, food preparation and family meals help children develop healthy dietary habits for life.

National Nutrition Month in March, is a great time for reinforcing healthy eating habits. To help get your kids started, here are a few yummy, healthy snacks recommended by the American Dietetic Association.

  • Mix together ready-to-eat cereal, dried fruit and nuts in a sandwich bag for an on-the-go snack.
  • Top low-fat vanilla yogurt with crunchy granola and sprinkle with blueberries.
  • Blend low-fat milk, frozen strawberries and a banana for thirty seconds for a delicious smoothie.
  • Make a mini-sandwich with tuna or egg salad on a dinner roll.
  • Toss dried cranberries and chopped walnuts in instant oatmeal.
  • Sandwich cut-outs: Make a sandwich on a whole grain bread. Cut out your favorite shape using a big cookie cutter.
  • Toast a whole grain waffle and top with low-fat yogurt and sliced peaches.
  • Stuff a whole grain pita pocket with ricotta cheese and Granny Smith apple slices. Add a dash of cinnamon.
  • Spread peanut butter on apple slices.

For more nutrition tips from our CHOC expert, click here:

White House Unveils Childhood Obesity Campaign

A study released this month by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), found that preschool children exposed to three household routines — regularly eating family meals, getting adequate sleep, and limiting screen-viewing time — had a roughly 40 percent lower prevalence of obesity than those exposed to none of these routines.

These findings were released the same week as the launch of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign to reduce the rates of childhood obesity in the United States. The initiative includes expanding efforts to make schools healthy environments for all children, increasing children’s physical activity, improving the affordability and accessibility of foods, and empowering consumers to make healthier choices.

As a fierce advocate for children, CHOC Children’s has remained a leader in the community in the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity. To read more about obesity and other helpful tips from the experts at CHOC, click here:

To learn more about CHOC’s programs and services, click here:
Or, visit to browse CHOC’s Health Library.

Talk To Your Kids About Money Issues

Talk about the economy is far from over, and if you haven’t already, it’s important to speak to your kids about it. Kids hear what’s going on from their friends, school, neighbors, etc. And chances are, if money is tight and it’s worrying you, it’s probably worrying your kids too.

When the moment is right, calmly discuss news about unemployment or belt-tightening and any concerns with your children. Make sure your conversation is age-appropriate and light. Here are some tips to consider when talking to your kids about money issues:

  • Keep talking! If economic problems continue, children may need periodic updates about what’s happening.
  • Listen to your children’s concerns.
  • Reassure children that it is perfectly normal to feel anxious about current economic troubles.
  • Emphasize that you are actively addressing the family’s financial situation.
  • Use job loss to teach children about the wisdom of saving money.
  • Accentuate the positive, including the strength of your family’s love.

For more tips on this timely topic, click here:

Flu Season Not Quite Over

Orange County has been getting plenty of sunshine these last couple days! Although we usually associate the flu season with colder temperatures – due to people staying inside and more likely to spread germs, as well as drier air – the flu season isn’t over yet! In fact, the flu season usually peaks anywhere from November through March.

Check out this link for all you need to know about the H1N1 and seasonal flu, including symptoms, when to seek treatment, and a link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with the latest updates.