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“Home for the Holidays” May Look A Little Different This Year

January 7, 2021 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

By Mia Armstrong 

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” (cue the music!).  Or is it?

For many of us, 2020 has been one of the most challenging years of our lives, and as we quickly approach the holiday season, it leaves us wondering how we can safely spend time with our families during the Covid-19 pandemic. Well, if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s showed us that we need connections with others now, MORE THAN EVER!

Courtesy of Unsplash

Gather ‘round the table

The end of the year is often filled with joy and memories as families gather together to celebrate various holidays. While this year in particular is going to look a little different, we can still make this holiday season memorable, for good reasons! For many, the holidays are filled with delicious smells and tastes as we share a family meal. While we may be tempted to feed the little ones separately from the adults, the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) encourages us to make the holiday dinner an event for the whole family. Even infants can experience the sights and smells of a delicious dinner with fun dinnerware items like these from Ashima. Pull up a high chair (like this one from Nomi) to include your baby while the family enjoys the meal.

Mealtime with Baby 101

If you are given any mealtime baby items or furniture as gifts this season, please make sure to review the manufacturer’s website to ensure the item hasn’t been recalled. The manufacturer’s instructions will also provide helpful tips for disinfecting items to keep things as clean as possible. It is important to make sure any infant seats are at eye-level to ensure the baby makes good eye contact with family members. However, the high chair should be positioned at a safe distance away from the table to prevent a curious baby from accidentally touching glassware, utensils, or hot foods. Another safety precaution is making sure that the high chair restraints are secure to prevent accidental falls. By following these recommendations, and making sure your child is supervised, your family can safely enjoy mealtime.

Speaking of food… 

Now is the time many people indulge in decadent holiday favorites, both savory and sweet! Whether you plan to loosen your dietary restrictions (and your belt!) or stick with your health plan, it’s important to consider age-appropriate foods for your young child. Be sure to have foods that your baby loves, but keep a watchful eye to prevent choking hazards. Several child-safe plates and utensils are available to help your child feed themselves and partake in the holiday meal.

What about safety during the pandemic?

Unfortunately, the end of the Covid-19 pandemic is not in sight, so we must be sure to follow the recommended safety precautions during our family gatherings.  It’s important to stay up-to-date on health advisories from the Centers for Disease Control as well as your local health authorities. Try to limit the number of dinner guests as much as possible, keeping in mind that our loved ones can still call in to share the meal virtually with the rest of the family.  Also, if there will be guests from outside your immediate family circle, try to plan seating to maintain an appropriate 6-foot social distance whenever possible.  Likewise, don’t forget that masks are still recommended for all family members two years old and older.  Having an area for handwashing, or bottles of hand sanitizer nearby, will help everyone have clean hands before enjoying the delicious holiday meal.  Depending on the weather, outdoor seating during the meal will help reduce the risk of infection.  A crisp, cool day is always refreshing! And, the family will be in the perfect position to begin the traditional after-dinner football game.

The season of gratitude 

During the meal, take time to share favorite memories from past holidays, as well as focus on gratitude for the love within your family. Though your child may be too young to speak complete sentences, caregivers can still encourage young ones to give thanks by babbling or speaking their own sweet gibberish. This simple activity will encourage language development for your child. There are some great non-tech gift ideas to help engage your children while encouraging learning and language development. Though our lives have been consumed by virtual meetings and classes, holiday meals should be a time to shut down the devices. In between bites of stuffing, create new traditions and memories by teaching kids gratitude.

The New Normal

Though the holidays may look a little different this year, we must strive to maintain a sense of normalcy for the kiddos, while navigating the change of the times. For many adults, as well as children, this time of year can be emotionally challenging, and the addition of a pandemic just compounds that. It’s important to calm little ones’ fears, manage stress, and keep the peace at home. With a little planning this holiday season, families can still celebrate the many reasons we have to be grateful.









About the author: Mia Armstrong, MD is a Board-Certified Pediatrician and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. According to her mother, she dreamed of becoming a Pediatrician since the age of three years old! She accomplished her goal by receiving her Medical Degree from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, GA. She completed her Pediatrics training in Jackson, MS at the University of Mississippi. Dr. Armstrong loves caring for children and teaching families how to be healthy! Though she enjoys working with children of all ages, she has a special interest in teaching new parents to care for their newborns and offering breastfeeding support as a Certified Lactation Counselor. Her other medical interests include asthma education, routine well care, and immunizations. She also enjoys traveling and exploring new cuisines and adventures. Dr. Armstrong loves to talk, never meets a stranger, and is excited to share her insight with parents everywhere through her blogs!

Summer Safety Tips

June 2, 2014 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

SUmmer Safety Tipsby Mommy MD Guides blogger Shilpa Amin-Shah, MD

Family safety is a priority regardless of the season, but the summer gives us more reason to emphasize simple measures to keep out of harm’s way.

  • Pool Safety: Be sure to swim only where there are lifeguards or adult supervision. Always use life jackets during water activities and when near open bodies of water such as the oceans, rivers, and lakes. Never leave your children unattended around water. Maintain barriers such as fences and locks to keep children away from unattended pool areas.
  • Food Safety: Summertime is often associated with outdoor barbecues and picnics. Mayonnaise, milk, eggs, meat, poultry, and seafood should not be kept at room temperature for more than an hour or two (one hour max if it’s hotter than 90 degrees outside). Be sure to thoroughly wash all raw fruits and vegetables. If you are traveling with food, be sure to use plenty of ice packs and ice to keep food cool.
  • Bug Safety: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend an insect repellent that contains 10 to 30 percent DEET for children two months old or older. The DEET percentage represents how long it’s effective: Ten percent will provide protection up to two hours, while 30 percent will cover you up to five hours. Do not apply DEET to face or hands. DEET is effective in preventing insect-related diseases such as Lyme disease and West Nile Virus. For a greener approach to bug busting, organic mosquito repellents are available in most pharmacies.
  • Sun Safety: Make sure you apply sunscreen before leaving the house. The American Cancer Society recommends wearing SPF 15. Stay in the shade as much as possible during the sun’s peak hours between 10 am and 4 pm. Make sure to re-apply sunscreen every one to two hours when swimming or if you are excessively sweating. Wear protective clothing, a hat, and sunglasses.
  • Heat Safety: Limit time outdoors when the weather is extremely hot and humid. If you do not have air conditioning in your home, go to public places that do, such as shopping malls, libraries, and grocery stores. Avoid hot, enclosed places, such as cars. Wear light-colored and lightweight clothing, and drink plenty of water before and during your time outdoors. Heat stress in children and adults can lead to serious health issues very quickly. The very young and the very old are at most risk for heat exhaustion because of their inability to handle high temperatures. If you are taking the kids to the playground, check the temperature of the playground equipment because it can get very hot and could burn your child.

Eight Signs of Heat Overexposure

  1. Rapid heartbeat
  2. Headache
  3. Fatigue
  4. Nausea and vomiting
  5. Excessive sweating (However, if heat stroke sets in, the body can no longer compensate and may stop sweating.)
  6. Muscle cramps
  7. Dark-colored urine
  8. Fainting, confusion, dizziness, or disorientation

Six Tips for Overcoming Heat Stroke

  1. Move the person out of the sun and into a cool area. An air-conditioned area is ideal, but moving someone into the shade will also help.
  2. Remove any heavy or tight clothing.
  3. Give the person cool water to drink.
  4. Mist the skin to help keep him or her cool.
  5. Apply ice to his or her neck or armpits.
  6. Immerse the body in cool water, either at a swimming pool or in a bathtub.

If these measures do not cool the person off in 30 minutes, call 9-1-1 and go to your nearest emergency room.

Shilpa Amin-Shah, MD is a mom of two young children and a physician at eMedical Offices in Berkeley Heights and an attending emergency physician at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston. She received a bachelor’s degree from Rosemont College in Rosemont, Pa., and her medical degree from SUNY Downstate, Brooklyn, NY. She completed the Jacobi/Montefiore Emergency Medicine Residency Program at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and served as chief resident.

Halloween Safety Tips

October 22, 2013 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Jennifer A. Gardner, MD

We want our little ghouls, ghosts, and goblins to have fun, but we also recognize that even simple pleasures like pumpkin carving and dressing up while roaming door-to-door pose some risk. These practical tips make it easy to plan ahead for safety to ensure the fun goes from here to November!

Dressing for Fun and Safety

  • Wigs, masks, large hats, and costumes that cover the face can impair vision. Avoid masks and opt for painting the face instead (look for nontoxic face paints).
  • Light-colored clothing has the best visibility, especially at night, but isn’t always practical. In this case, use strips of reflective tape (front and back) to increase visibility.
  • For extra visibility at night, have your child carry a flashlight or glow sticks (have extra) or wear a glow-in-the-dark necklace.
  • Consider using a brightly colored goodie bag. You can also put reflective tape here, but don’t make this the only thing that is visible as it could be lost.
  • Costumes that are baggy or too long can pose a tripping hazard. So do large shoes and high heels.
  • Any props kids carry, such as magical wands and fantastic swords, should be flexible and blunt. Remember, tripping is not uncommon when kids are hurrying along on sidewalks, so avoid anything that could cause an eye injury.
  • Look for flame retardant costumes. Jack-o-lanterns with candles inside can be an unintentional fire hazard.
  • Be sure your child has a costume that is an appropriate weight. Nothing ruins trick-or-treating fun like being too hot or cold.
  • For younger children, label the inside of the costume with your phone number.


Rules of the Road

  •  If your child will be trick or treating without you (generally safe around age 10), plan the route out in advance and set well-recognized limits surrounding busy roads or isolated stretches.
  • Provide clear guidelines on what time your child should return home.
  • Have your child carry a cell phone and be sure your child can call 911 for an emergency.
  • All kids should know their phone number in case of separation.
  • Only trick-or-treat on streets with sidewalks, and avoid busy roads altogether.
  • If possible, only trick-or-treat at homes in your own neighborhood.
  • Teach kids to cross the street only at crosswalks and to never assume that vehicles will stop at intersections or stop signs.
  • Teach kids not to enter a home to collect a treat.
  • Have children trick-or-treat (and stay) in groups. Remember, safety in numbers.
  • Kids (as always) should not talk to strangers, especially masked individuals.
  • If trick-or-treating at night, only trick-or-treat on well lit streets and only approach well lit homes.
  • Be sure your child will not be returning home alone. If this is the case, arrange to pick up at a friends.
  • Teach kids to throw away any candy that looks tampered with (unwrapped or opened, small holes, or a seal that looks glued).
  • Protect little ones from choking hazards like gum, hard candy, and popcorn. Do not allow children to walk with lollipops in their mouths. (As a pediatric ER doc, I have seen the dangers first hand.)


Careful Carving

Never allow children to handle a sharp knife. Even kids experienced with using knives will find it difficult to cut through pumpkins, and may exert too much pressure, resulting in injury.

  •  Instead, have them draw the shapes on the pumpkin and let a responsible adult do the carving.
  • If kids want to be more involved, allow them to remove the seeds and guts with a large spoon.
  • Once carved, use flameless (battery operated) candles for safer illumination.
  • You can also have them paint the pumpkins instead of carving them.

And Remember, Keep Kids Safe as They Approach Your Own Home!

  • To avoid trips and slips, remove rakes, hoses, children’s toys, bikes, or anything that might occlude the walkway.
  • Remove any wet, slippery leaves.
  • Make sure your house is well lit.
  • Keep pets way from trick-or-treaters (upstairs or in the back of the house). Even if pets are dressed for Halloween fun, many children may be scared or allergic. Remember, a costume could also frighten a normally friendly pet.
  • And of course, pets around candy is a bad idea. Chocolate can be fatal for doggies, so keep candy out of reach!

Dr. Gardner is a mom of a three-year-old son, a pediatrician, and the founder of an online child wellness and weight management company, HealthyKidsCompany.com, in Washington, DC.

Want to read more blogs by Mommy MD Guide Jennifer A. Gardner, MD? Here’s her recent blog about making sure your kids eat healthy meals at school.

Who Do You Call?

January 22, 2011 by  
Filed under J.Bright

“If you need a policeman, fireman, or ambulance, who do you call?”

It’s so neat, I’m working, but I hear my husband upstairs drilling our sons, Tyler (age five) and Austin (age three) on safety. He does this every few months. First, he had Tyler sit in the living room, and the he placed a pack of matches, a lighter, and a very realistic looking water pistol on the floor around our house. Then he told Austin to go find the dangerous items and tell him what he would do if ever found them somewhere. Austin found each item, named it, didn’t touch it, and said “I would not touch it, I would go tell a grownup.” Then Mike had Austin sit out while Tyler repeated the process.

Next, they held a firedrill. “BEEP, BEEP, BEEP” Mike yelled, and he had the boys practice crawling on their bellies out their rooms, down the stairs, out the front door, to our designated meeting place outside. It’s a light pole, and Austin calls it the “Fire Pole.” Every few months, Mike presses the “test” button on the alarm to hold a surprise drill. It’s usually a surprise to me also and scares the dickens out of me!

Now Mike is quizzing them on how to call 911–but only in an emergency!

Smoke Alarms

September 23, 2010 by  
Filed under J.Bright, Uncategorized


Last night at 2:30 am, our smoke alarm went off. I vaulted out of bed and ran, heart pounding, to my son Austin’s room. I snatched up Austin (2), and then screamed “Tyler” as I whirled around and headed to his room.
On the way, I practically ran into my husband, Mike, who was in the hallway. At that instant I realized that the alarm had stopped sounding. Thank God.

I put Austin back in bed and checked on Tyler. Mike and I did a careful search of the house and found nothing wrong. We don’t know what caused the alarm to go off; perhaps a spider crawled inside.

But one of the scariest parts of this was that neither Austin nor Tyler (4) woke up. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, up to 85% of kids don’t wake up to smoke alarms because they sleep so deeply and the alarms aren’t loud enough. Safety experts are working to develop different types of alarms, such as those with flashing lights and different sounds. In the meantime, parents should be aware that the alarms might not wake kids up.

Also be sure to check your smoke alarm batteries once a month and replace their batteries once a year. Make a fire escape plan and practice it with your family.

The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.