Pearls of Wisdom: Promoting Physical Activity to Your Child

The importance of keeping an active lifestyle is one of those things that we know so well, but often have a hard time practicing.  We admit that exercising our bodies is just as important to our well-being as eating and sleeping. But many things can keep us from taking part in physical activity; in fact, a recent U.S. News and World Report offered the top 10 reasons that people give for not exercising.  Can you guess what they are before you read on?  Among the top 10 were:

“I’m too busy.”

“It’s so boring.”

“I’m not a gym rat.”

”My kids get in the way.”

 

If you have ever felt like physical activity is eluding you for any of the above reasons, today’s Pearl of Wisdom might help you re-focus and re-energize.  Let’s consider for a moment that your children must keep active and move their bodies to stay healthy.  And consider, too, that we are the best teachers by way of example. That may change things a bit…

… if you are too busy or think think that the kids get in the way, include the kids in a fitness routine!  And if exercise seems boring, kids can easily kick up the fun factor.  Let your kids be both the motivating factor in your own routine and the beneficiaries of an exercise program that trains them to be physically active. Why is this so important for your child?

Muscular strength, coordination and stamina all improve progressively, as does the ability to perform complex-pattern movements like dancing or shooting a basketball, so it’s best to start early in life. By the time your child is age 6, he or she should be encouraged to engage in physical activity to develop higher order motor skills that will progress as they grow older and continue training. Sedentary habits during their early school years are associated with lifetime risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease.

Several of my own friends have admitted that rote exercise — say, running on a treadmill or endless rounds of situps — is less enjoyable than playing a sport.  Kids often feel the same way!  Sports such as swimming, basketball, cycling, dancing, or running provide fun and enjoyment but more importantly, also promote health.  Some of the benefits of physical activity include increasing cardiovascular endurance.  Aerobic activity can make the heart pump more efficiently, lowering blood pressure and increasing the levels of HDL ( good cholesterol ) that eliminates the “bad” fat in the bloodstream. T his may be hard to believe, but studies have shown fatty deposits in the arteries of children as early as age 3.

Other benefits of exercise include increased flexibility, making your child more agile. Stretching exercises are encouraged to improve flexibility and could be incorporated into the warm-up and cool-down part of an exercise regimen. As your child matures, he or she will be able to exercise for longer periods of time. Remember, stronger muscles also provide better support for the joints, hence offering protection from sports injuries.

On the other side of the coin, Livestrong.com lists media distractions and family influence as two of the main reasons why so many children don’t get enough exercise.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that 18% of American children in the pre-pubertal years are obese. Medical complications aside, exercise can help burn calories and fat and reduce appetite. Additionally, a physically active child is less likely to experience stress related symptoms like headaches, stomachaches and more, caused partially by muscle tightness from unmanaged stress. Just as we all do, our children need to learn how to manage stress and diffuse it efficiently — engaging in exercise is an excellent way to do this. To most of us, a minute or two of walking doesn’t sound like a lot but to a child trying to lose weight, every bit of activity helps, whether it’s  climbing up a flight of stairs in school or taking a short walk through the park, accompanied by an adult.  Once your child gets into better shape, you can encourage her or him to pick up the pace and challenge her to increase the duration and intensity of the activity. The most important thing is to get them moving and have them do it on a regular basis!

Do you have a personal physical activity routine that you’d like to share with other BabyLeggers? Do you incorporate your children into your own exercise regimen, or encourage them to stay active and have fun? Comment below  and head over to our Facebook page tomorrow to discuss with other fans!

 

Warm Regards,

Dr. Pearl

All information contained in this blog and on our web site(s) should be independently verified by you by a medical professional of your own choosing and you should always conduct your own research and due diligence before making any decision related to the subject matter of this blog or our web site. 

———–

Dr. Pearl

 

Dr. Pearl Cenon

A pediatrician in private practice in New Jersey for over 15 years, Dr. Cenon (we like to call her Dr. Pearl) also has two children of her own. Dr. Pearl’s husband, Kevin McDonough is also a pediatrician and they work together. She writes basic posts about topics that interest many parents, from skin care and nutrition to seasonal issues, such as allergies and colds. Her kind, approachable tone in each blog post will have you looking forward to the next one.

Pearls of Wisdom: How to Help Your Child Survive Spring Allergy Season

Warmer weather is upon us — flowers are blooming, leaves are sprouting, and grass is growing. But for many, this also means that little noses are sneezing and eyes are tearing! Seasonal allergic rhinitis or hay fever both describe a condition that develops in children after 4-5 years of age, who have been sensitized to wind-borne pollens from trees, grasses and weeds.

Symptoms may include sneezing, runny nose with watery discharge, itching of the nose and throat, and teary eyes, all of which can cause anywhere from mild to severe discomfort.  A child suffering from such allergies may have mannerisms caused by itching of the nose such as wrinkling of the nose, (“rabbit nose”) or rubbing it frequently (“allergic salute”). Dark circles may appear under the eyes resulting from slow blood flow caused by swollen nasal mucous membranes. All of these symptoms combined add up to one uncomfortable child.

Your pediatrician can prescribe medications to control allergies, but the key to alleviating symptoms is avoidance of exposure to allergens and irritants that trigger symptoms as much as you can. The two top seasonal allergy culprits are pollen and outdoor molds. Tree pollen usually is the main trigger during spring, grasses are a summer irritant and ragweed will cause symptoms in the fall. Parents, this means year-round battle with weeds, molds, plants, and more.

What measures can you take to shield your child of allergens while still enjoying the outdoors? Here’s your checklist:

  1. Keep car and house windows closed and if possible, turn on the air-conditioning, making sure it has efficient filters.
  2. Control the timing/impact of outdoor exposure by planning trips when it’s cooler and less windy. NOTE: Hot, dry, windy days seem to be peak allergy days! Also, pollen counts normally peak in the morning, so schedule activities for later in the day to keep sneezing at bay. Playing is often more fun after kids wake up from their naps.
  3. Restrict outdoor activities like camping and hiking.
  4. Keep children indoors when mowing the lawn.
  5. After coming in from outdoor activities, toss dirty clothes in the washer and take a quick shower, especially after gardening or raking leaves.
  6. Request that family members and visitors remove shoes before entering the house or at least wipe them well on a mat.

Unfortunately, staying indoors won’t stop the allergen avalanche because, like the mud that travels inside on kids’ play shoes, pollen is easily tracked inside our homes. Practical ways to reduce indoor pollen include frequent vacuuming, using a double bag and HEPA filter. Remember to keep your child in another room when vacuuming or have them wear a mask. TIP: If a surgical mask seems scary to a tot, have them wear a Halloween or a favorite superhero mask.

For more extreme prevention from severe allergic reactions, choose hardwood floors and tile instead of carpets that trap pollen, dust and molds, replace draperies with shutters or blinds, and install portable HEPA filters in your home (preferably those that have high efficiency particulate air filters).

Appropriate drugs can normally relieve symptoms of allergies in children. Antihistamines are the mainstay of therapy but unfortunately, many of them can cause drowsiness that lessens with continued use. If nasal stuffiness is severe, your pediatrician can prescribe a nasal decongestant for a few days. Be sure to ask your doctor before using over the counter decongestants or nasal sprays, since many of them can produce rebound vasodilatation (dilation or widening of blood vessels) after prolonged use, making symptoms much worse.

Use of nasal saline solution is far safer, either administered by a squeeze bottle or a neti-pot, a device that looks like a small teapot to irrigate the nose. By far, the most effective treatment of allergic rhinitis is topical steroids reserved for children who do not improve after taking antihistamines and decongestants. These topical nasal steroids are safe and are not absorbed into the body.

It may be difficult and frustrating at times to avoid allergens completely. Many kids are in the same boat as yours, but by following simple, practical steps, you and your child can still explore the great outdoors or enjoy your own backyard with little discomfort.

PS:  These Pearls of Wisdom about seasonal allergies also hold true for you!

 

All information contained in this blog and on our web site(s) should be independently verified by you by a medical professional of your own choosing and you should always conduct your own research and due diligence before making any decision related to the subject matter of this blog or our web site. 
———–

Dr. Pearl

 

Dr. Pearl Cenon

A pediatrician in private practice in New Jersey for over 15 years, Dr. Cenon (we like to call her Dr. Pearl) also has two children of her own. Dr. Pearl’s husband, Kevin McDonough is also a pediatrician and they work together. She writes basic posts about topics that interest many parents, from skin care and nutrition to seasonal issues, such as allergies and colds. Her kind, approachable tone in each blog post will have you looking forward to the next one.

Pearls of Wisdom: What to Expect On Your Baby’s First Doctor’s Visit

BabyLegs BL BodyWear

Post By. Dr. Pearl Cenon

In my 15 years as a pediatrician, I’ve had the pleasure of being one of the first faces (outside of family) that new babies meet! A baby’s first visit to the pediatrician is always an exciting one: parents are full of questions about their precious little one. Even if it’s not a firstborn, each baby has her own unique personality so parents find themselves seeking new and different advice or trying to remember how things worked the last time around! Whether you are expecting your first or fifth child, this is a basic summary on your newborn’s first visit to the pediatrician.

New moms and dads should expect to see their family pediatrician the most during baby’s first year. Right after the baby is born, an appointment should be made for a visit. It’s a good idea for two people to accompany baby so that one parent can focus on the discussion with the doctor, while the extra caregiver attends to baby. This will give parents an opportunity to get to know their pediatrician and exchange questions and answers. Questions can range from medical issues to common childcare topics, parental support groups, and any other practical matters.  From this very first visit, a good pediatrician will make parents comfortable and assist them in every possible way.

Initially, your baby’s weight, height and head circumference will be measured and plotted on a growth curve that shows how your baby compares to other babies the same age. These measurements will be taken at all subsequent infant visits because they help track your baby’s growth.  Interesting fact: generally speaking, (though your baby’s milestones may vary; check with your doctor if you have questions), babies will double their birth weight by their sixth month of life and triple it by the age of one. Imagine if we tripled our weight within a year?!

Provincial health department, Bolu, Turkey Photo: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank

Provincial health department, Bolu, Turkey Photo: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank

Next comes a thorough, head-to-toe physical examination. In the head exam, the doctor examines the soft spots — called fontanelles – that are normally open and flat in the first few months. The posterior (back) fontanelle usually closes at two to three months while the anterior (front) fontanelle closes before the second birthday.

Though most newborn nurseries perform hearing tests before the baby is discharged, baby’s ears will be examined again during this visit. To assess hearing, the doctor may ask how your baby reacts to your voice or loud sounds. The doctor will use an otoscope that provides a good view of the ear canal and eardrum.

Everything Checks Out!- Lab212

Everything Checks Out!- Lab212

Using a bright light such as an ophthalmoscope, the doctor will examine your baby’s eyes to detect cataracts that sometimes form early in life. He or she will also track eye movements and check the pupil’s response to light.  Next is an exam of the mouth and neck, followed by use of a stethoscope to listen to the heart and lungs. The doctor is listening for murmurs, abnormal heart rhythms, and breath sounds.

The doctor will also gently apply pressure to your baby’s abdomen to check for any abnormal masses or tenderness. If your baby still has the umbilical stump, he or she will show you how to clean and keep the area dry until it falls off.  Genitalia are also checked for abnormal lumps or signs of infections. In baby boys, the doctor will examine the penis (and healing, if a circumcision was performed) and ensure that the testes are both down in the scrotum.

To assess for problems in the hip joints, your doctor will move your baby’s legs to detect any abnormalities such as congenital hip dysplasia; early detection of this condition is critical for correction later in life.

Lastly, your pediatrician will ask about your baby’s feeding, sleep patterns, and bowel/urinary frequency. It is crucial that you learn to recognize developmental milestones that your baby will reach; hence the doctor will discuss when you can expect your baby to smile, roll over, sit up, walk, and how he or she uses her hands and arms. During this visit, your pediatrician will also test the baby’s reflexes and muscle tone.

Prior to baby’s birth, consider asking your family members, friends, and even your ob/gyn for their recommended pediatricians; then make appointments to meet several.  Just as you would interview childcare providers, you will want to ensure that the pediatrician you choose for your baby is someone that you trust and with whom you have a good relationship.  You and your child will be in close contact with the family pediatrician for almost two decades… that’s good reason to be choosy!  A good pediatrician is one whose reputation is excellent, but also someone who can clearly answer your questions, is a good listener, instill confidence in you, and someone who always makes you feel welcomed!

Warm Wishes,

Dr. Pearl

 

All information contained in this blog and on our web site(s) should be independently verified by you by a medical professional of your own choosing and you should always conduct your own research and due diligence before making any decision related to the subject matter of this blog or our web site. 

———–

Dr. Pearl

 

Dr. Pearl Cenon

A pediatrician in private practice in New Jersey for over 15 years, Dr. Cenon (we like to call her Dr. Pearl) also has two children of her own. Dr. Pearl’s husband, Kevin McDonough is also a pediatrician and they work together. She’ll write basic posts about topics that interest many parents, from skin care and nutrition to seasonal issues, such as allergies and colds. Her kind, approachable tone in each blog post will have you looking forward to the next one.