Safe Toys and Gifts Month: A Reminder that Parents are the Authorities

By Maria Jauhar, M.D.

December is observed as Safe Toys and Gifts Month to remind us that regulations alone are not enough to ensure our children’s safety in the season of giving.

The National Safety Council and others have succeeded in seeing competent rules enforced for the safety of toys, even toys imported from abroad. But those rules alone don’t complete the picture. The attention of parents and loved ones is required too, to make sure the holiday season is a happy and healthy one.

We Can Be Confident – But Not Overconfident

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has built a systematic initiative for toy safety that requires third-party testing and sets strict standards.

Choosing safe toys still takes thoughtful attention and a little research from the parents to make sure each child is getting gifts that are both safe and suitable. Even dear relatives can’t be expected to know as much as parents about what gift choices fit a child’s interests, skills, and capacities.

Some hazards are obvious, such as sharp edges, and some are not, such as games involving marbles or any other pieces smaller than an inch and three-quarters. The tendency of small children to twist and “taste” their playthings must be considered, so be watchful for parts that can be broken off and swallowed. Deflated or broken balloons should be discarded right away to avoid this same kind of risk. Straps, strings or cords longer than seven inches can become choking hazards too.

When It’s Time for Skill

Gifts that call for the skills we acquire gradually as we grow, such as bikes and even tricycles, call for instruction and protective gear. Yes, most of us grew up without a helmet, but times have changed for the better in some ways. Helmets for riders and protective knee and elbow pads for skaters are some of the good things about the 21st Century. They make great follow-on gifts, too.

Instruction in how to bike, trike, or skate has for generations been a bonding time for parent and child. It’s also a vital step for safety, so let’s not short-change it.

After the Gifts are Opened

Sometimes the danger is not from the toy itself, so Child & Family Services compiled some excellent tips for what to watch out for after gifts are opened.

Plastic wrapping can become dangerous to small children, so it’s a good idea to dispose of plastic immediately, even if leaving the gift-wraps on the floor as we open others is part of holiday color. Battery charging should be a grown-up job because of the tendency of some chargers to heat up.

And with all the care we devote to choosing safe and appropriate gifts for our small children, we can’t forget to take care that their older siblings don’t hand over gifts that weren’t selected for the young ones.

Giving the Care You Want for Your Family

The extra care your family deserves comes naturally. It is the focus of Safe Toys and Gifts Month just because the know-how needs some tuning up when it comes to selecting holiday gifts. That kind of care comes naturally to us, too, and we made it the focus of our practice.

To schedule an appointment with us at Island Family Medical Center, call 912.897.6832 or use our online appointment request form.

Back-to-School Checkups: The Gift of Going Well

By Maria Jauhar, M.D.

Good health may be the biggest boost we can give our children to help them get the most from the coming school year. No laptop, book, or set of school supplies can do so much to promote a good learning experience as wellness. An excellent attendance record, undistracted attention in class, and the open mind that comes with a positive outlook can all be advantages of scheduling your child’s back-to-school checkup now.

Back to school serves as a great marker for when to give a child all the advantages of a medical once-over. Yes, youth gives certain advantages for health, but think how eventful and demanding a child’s life can be. A lot can change in a short time, so it’s good to have this appraisal built into the family calendar.

The Invisible, Protective Shield

With the advantage of a family physician on your side, the records of your child’s immunizations are handy and accurate. Making sure your child is up to date is not just a good idea; certain immunizations are required by school systems, and your doctor’s office should be familiar with the local standards.

In addition to what may be required, influenza vaccination is recommended for certain age groups and for children with risks for complication from the flu, such as asthma. Vaccination and five-year boosters for diphtheria and tetanus are important to your child’s safety, and again these are examples of the benefits of establishing a relationship with a family physician – who else knows exactly when your last tetanus shot was given?

Homework Already? For the Parents?

There are things you can do before your child’s back-to-school physical that will make the time you spend there more efficient and effective. A checklist of what to bring to that appointment gives a whole new meaning to the idea, “prepared for class.”

Permission and contact forms are required by many schools to be signed by the parent, and in certain instances by the child’s physician. These clear the way for school health personnel to administer medication if a mishap or illness should arise, and they make it clear whom they should contact at home or at work if such a situation occurs.

Some schools require a physician’s endorsement of the permission slip that parents sign to enable their child to take part in athletics, band, or other activities. Make sure you know these school rules and bring the forms to your appointment if they are called for.

If You Are New to The Doctor

If back-to-school is the first appointment with a new physician for your child, make sure you are equipped with the information they’ll need to make a good start. Information on known allergies, records of immunization, prescriptions, and health history will form the foundation for a worthwhile relationship.

It’s important to look at our children’s back-to-school “physical” as an opportunity. With a little preparation it can be one of the most effective “school supplies” we provide for them!

If you would like to schedule a back-to-school checkup for your child, then please schedule an appointment with us by calling 912.897.6832 or use our online appointment request form.

National Kids Day: Let’s Give Them the Start They Need

By Maria Jauhar, M.D.

As we celebrate kids on their day this week, let’s take a moment to think about our hopes for them, and what that calls us to provide.

The holiday dates back just over 20 years. It is celebrated traditionally on the first Sunday in August, and its theme is about spending more time and paying real attention to kids. Yet it was started by a charitable institution called KidsPeace that goes all the way back to 1882. The founding organization is dedicated to the emotional and physical health of children.

We Want Something Better for the Next Generation

No matter how privileged our own upbringing might have been – or how challenged – it’s a natural goal to want to pass life on a little better than we had it ourselves. The feeling that we are making progress in that direction can be one of life’s greatest satisfactions.

In the U.S., our progress as a society in making life better for kids can be viewed in the bluntest terms by how far we came in infants surviving birth and early childhood. The statistics, such as they are, from pioneer times are shocking, and the upward curve is so steep that we now take that progress for granted.

Much of the improvement has to do with insights into prenatal care and the health of the mother. Victory over many deadly childhood diseases paints the rest of that picture. Yet even today not all expectant mothers, infants, and children have access to this state-of-the-art care.

Taking Care of Our Own

Finding a primary care physician who is interested in the whole family is one way to make sure we are on the right track with our own kids’ health. It’s their job to stay abreast of the advancements in prevention and healing that present themselves, thankfully, at an ever-increasing rate.

Their planning and record keeping are an often-overlooked advantage of not “hopping around” to various doctors for various concerns. A family physician can be the greatest ally of your own awareness in caring for the well being of your kids.

Sharing These Blessings

Many people find it is good practice also to contribute in some way to giving access to healthcare for kids who are less fortunate than their own. It’s a way of giving life to our gratitude. When our own kids are cared for and thriving, that feeling is hard to beat. Yet one step more can be a new insight into satisfying that natural desire to pass things on a little bit better.

It’s not just in schools that our kids share circumstances and influences with those who may be less fortunate. It’s in our whole community, nation and society. That’s an external reason to give. The internal reasons are naturally more personal. Many folks say that expressing their gratitude by giving opens their lives up to an even higher level of happiness.

There are many children’s charities to choose from. The one that founded this holiday can be found at http://www.kidspeace.org.

Finally, if you are seeking a family medicine physician for your child, we’re here to help. To schedule an appointment, just call us at 912.897.6832 or use our online appointment request form.

10 Tips for Toy Safety

By Maria Jauhar, M.D.

December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month, and for good reason. This is the season when so many of us are buying presents for children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, and the list goes on. While opening a shiny new toy is fun and exciting, it can also come with a safety risk. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2013, there were approximately 256,700 toy-related injuries. Here’s how to keep a child you are buying a gift for from becoming a statistic.

1. Read the label, which will provide warnings and other important information about how to use a toy and what ages the toy is safe for.

2. When checking the toy’s label, to make sure it includes the word, “non-toxic.”

3. Buy products than carry the tag of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), which ensures that the toy meets national safety standards.

4. If buying an electric toy, make sure it is “UL Approved.” If it is, it will clearly be listed on the toy’s label.

5. Avoid purchasing toys that have small parts and may pose a choking danger, especially for children three years old or younger. Children of these ages are more prone to put small parts in their mouths. Make sure all toys are larger than the child’s mouth.

6. Be cautious about toys with cords, straps, or strings that are seven inches or longer, as they pose a strangulation risk.

7. Buy plastic toys that are sturdy. Toys constructed from thin plastic may break easily, leaving small pieces that are choking hazards or jagged edges that could cut a child.

8. If purchasing a bicycle for a child, make sure you buy a helmet to go with it.

9. Check for product recalls to make sure any toy you have purchased is not on the list. Toy safety is overseen by The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). If you are concerned about any toy you have purchased, call its hotline at 800-638-2772.

10. Stay away from toys that shoot objects into the air, as they can cause choking or eye injuries. Similarly, avoid toys that included amplified sound, as they can damage a child’s hearing.