Revisiting Healthy Sleep and Staying Healthy During Flu Season

Hello again, friends of Mountain Area,

I wanted to briefly share with you more resources for helping your child sleep better, as this is a topic that often comes up with not only the recent transitions back to school, but also with changing sunlight hours. Daylight savings time does not end until November 3rd this year, which means dark starts to the mornings, and challenges to finding healthy and consistent routines.

A site that is quite helpful with information on what is normal, troubleshooting common mistakes surrounding sleep, and references some reliable sources is Sleephelp.org

With cold and flu season right around the corner, we often struggle as parents to figure out how to best keep our kids healthy and spare them the misery of illness, even if it is just the common cold. The best ways to stay well remain constant: good sleep, good nutrition, good exercise, and preventative care including routine vaccines and seasonal flu vaccine.

So, if you haven’t contacted our office yet, consider calling in today for your flu shot!

Wishing you all well,

Dr. Meg

 

Healthy Sleep, Happy Child (and Happy Parents!)

Hello, friends of Mountain Area Peds!

It has been a very busy cold and flu season for us at Mountain Area Pediatrics, but thankfully things are finally calming down in our community. With the return of more routine well care, comes more of the everyday questions of caring for your children.

One of the most common questions, and most important ways to be and stay healthy, is how to maintain healthy sleep routines and habits. This is something that all our pediatricians discuss regularly – at well and sick visits. Healthy sleep varies widely through different stages of development, and it often takes frequently revisiting what is healthy and what strategies are most effective for getting good sleep.

We have discovered a lovely resource for families that are fighting the good fight to get some decent shut-eye: Tuck.com. Their website provides evidence-based health information, news, and unbiased product reviews. Check out some of their links below:

Getting Your Baby to Sleep – What to Know

Understanding Sleep Regression

The Impact Bullying Has on Your Child’s Sleep

And as always, if parent intuition is telling you something is wrong, reach out to us so we can discuss what’s going on in-person. We’re here for you and your littles!

-Dr. Meg

The Best Toys for Your Tots

There are two kinds of gift-givers during the holiday season. There are those who prepare everything in advance, have presents wrapped and under the tree the day they set it up, everything shipped out already for friends and family, and personalized cards sent out December 1st. And then there are those like me: wondering who I forgot, where I can get some cards last minute, and at 2 am on December 21st waking in a sweat realizing I forgot my brother and hoping they can ship that fleece out 2 day-shipping already gift-wrapped.

For those like me who still have shopping to do, the American Academy of Pediatrics put out a statement last week offering guidance on what kinds of toys are most appropriate for children. A link that offers great advise on how to choose those toys is here: What to Look for in a Toy

The take away from the article is this: flashy electronic toys that engage a child through a screen or app are not the ones you should reach for off the toy shelves. It may seem counter-intuitive, but old-school toys, ones that foster pretend and imaginative play, symbolic play, problem solving and social interaction, and get kids moving, are the ones that lead to growth in development and skills. Think back to your childhood (if you’re as old as I am, think ’80s), with Legos and Lincoln Logs, Barbie Dolls and dollhouses, cars and trucks and build-your-own racetracks. Those were the best! The other more subtle takeaway, and in truth the more important message, is that the best toys should support play between children and their parents and caregivers, encouraging imaginative and pretend play for the whole family.

Here’s to a happy gift-giving season for all!

-Dr. Meg

 

Finding Thanks this Season

Every November brings my favorite holiday: Thanksgiving! Family, friends, and food really are the best things in life. And no matter what challenges or frustrations may be going on in our personal lives (y’all, the toddler struggle is real), I find plenty to be thankful for every year. Here at Mountain Area Peds, we have been taking stock of those ways in which we can be most helpful, most supportive, and most available to our families, in hopes that you might be thankful for us – in times of healthfulness, and in seasons of sick.

We want our patients and their families to find value in what we do – I don’t think anyone goes into medicine expecting anything less than being a respected and appreciated part of their patient’s health and wellbeing. This is even more true in primary care specialties such as Pediatrics, as we get to know our patients over time, watching the struggles and embracing successes with them.

One way in which we try our hardest is to be available to see patients not only for well care, but for their sick care too. We make sure we’re here for walk-in visits first thing in the morning (7:30-8:30 am every weekday), and we have sick time reserved through the day to see patients, along with after-hours time too (is your kid sick, and they need to be seen but it’s getting late? – we start our weekday after hours schedule by taking phone calls at 4pm, often staying well past closing to see anyone who might need us). And on the weekends, phones open at 8:30am, with nurses ready to bring you in to see the on-call doctor if you’re worried, with double the staff once flu season really starts (did I mention how thankful we are for our staff? THANK YOU TEAM MAPA!).

We are so fortunate to have the community we do in our patients and families, and we find ourselves thankful to be able to do what we do for you. So when your little one might need us this cold and flu season – just know that we thank you for coming on in to see us. We’re so happy to help.

-Dr. Meg

Playtime as a Prescription for Success

Earlier this week the American Academy of Pediatrics put out a statement that details the importance of play for a young child’s developing mind. Its title is “Simple prescription: Pediatricians have a role in promoting healthy development though play,” and it summarizes the upcoming article “The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children” which will be published in the journal Pediatrics next month.

The idea that play is important for child development is not new – in 2007 the AAP had its first clinical report on it. Time and time again, and with increasingly powerful data, play has shown to improve success later on in life, with areas affected including creativity, resilience, problem-solving skills, collaborative skills, and handling stress. These are critical skills for success, not just in school but in life. With the focus of preschool programs now aiming at premath and preliteracy skills, and preparing our children for automatic success once in grade school, we’ve moved away from play. Our toddler and preschool-aged children now “work” on their letters and numbers. This unfortunately has not improved school success, and is clearly shown in the data reported.

So what is play?  According to the article “there is a growing consensus that it is an activity that is intrinsically motivated, entails active engagement, and results in joyful discovery. Play is voluntary and often has no extrinsic goals; it is fun and often spontaneous.” It is also free from real-life consequences – it allows failure as part of the experience.

When parents play with their children, they benefit themselves as well. Studies also show it improves parent-child relationships, diminishes caregiver stress, and let’s just be honest: it’s fun! You get to re-experience the joys you likely had as a child, and hopefully experience newfound fun as well.

Play can look like anything. It can be make-believe, or it can be physical with chasing/tagging/peekaboo-ing. It can be drawing and singing and dancing. It can be solo and in group form. It can be sitting down and reading your favorite book, or making up your own stories. Play takes on all forms, because it is as broad in scope as the mind itself. It is magical in its moments both shared and observed from afar.

With school starting back and the stress it so often brings (school supplies, juggling schedules, planning after-school activities, ugh!), let us not forget this part of our role as caregivers, parents, and teachers. Play! Have fun, and foster that sense of joy and playfulness with your littles – in fact, consider it doctor-ordered 🙂

-Dr. Meg