Should Kids Get A Flu Shot?

Flu Shots For Kids - Mommy Makeover NetworkIt’s that time of year again. No, not the holiday season. Flu season. Deciding whether or not to get a flu shot is a personal choice, and  many American’s elect not to get them for themselves. However, while you have the choice to bypass getting vaccinated, you shouldn’t necessarily let your children go without it.

Young children are at a higher risk for catching influenza, and every year, many get sick and end up having life-threatening complications that require immediate medical attention. In order to protect them from this dangerous illness, make an appointment for them to receive a shot or nasal spray. The type of vaccination they receive will primarily depend on their age.

If you’re the mother of a child between 2-7, you can save them from the pain of receiving a shot by electing to have them get vaccinated with a nasal spray. In fact, it is proven to be more effective than a shot for those in this age range. According to a Slate article published on October 3, 2013, kids between the ages of 2-7 who got the spray in 2012 were 83% less likely to get the flu than those who weren’t vaccinated. That efficacy rate dropped to only 48% for kids who got the shot.

Influenza virus image - Flu Shots for kids - Mommy Makeover Network

Well, that thing looks nasty.

Unfortunately, if your child is under two, the nasal spray option is not available, as it hasn’t been approved for children that young. But just because they can’t be vaccinated without a needle doesn’t mean you should avoid it. In fact, influenza complications are most common in kids younger than two, so it’s even more important that you schedule an appointment for them to receive the flu shot. Additionally, those younger than 6 months cannot be vaccinated in any way. The best way to help them avoid getting sick is to ensure everyone around them is vaccinated.

To help your little one overcome their fears of getting a shot, Parents.com suggests telling them the truth about what to expect, applying anesthetic cream that numbs the skin 20 minutes before the appointment and even providing a reward as incentive for them making it through the process. In the case your child overreacts, let the physician take over.

Following the vaccination appointment, be sure to watch out for immediate side effects. While flu vaccines are intended to protect against contracting a season illness, they do pose risks. Some common symptoms included soreness in the area of the shot, headaches, and fever. In rare cases, complications like Guillain-Barre syndrome develop as well as severe allergic reactions. But the chances of these complications occurring are close to one-in-a-million.

In all, the benefits of getting your children vaccinated heavily outweigh the consequences, according to most experts. It is important that those children six months to five years old be vaccinated every flu season, which runs from October through January. Children with asthma, diabetes, and brain or nervous system disorders are especially at high risk to endure complications if they contract the flu, so getting them vaccinated early on each flu season should be a high priority.


100 Googly Eyes – Crafts for the 100th Day of School

100 day of school crafts for kids - Mommy Makeover NetworkIn elementary grades, many schools celebrate the 100th day of school. It’s a great way for the children to conceptualize “100,” which is sometimes a little overwhelming for very young minds—100 might as well be 4 billion for a lot of younger kiddos.

Every year my kids carry home the papers from their teachers explaining the 100th day celebrations, and invariably, I have to help my son and daughter make some craft that includes 100 of something.

At least once we have made sets of 10 Cheerios separated by a single Fruit Loop all strung on a piece of twine or yarn to where as a necklace. Often this gets eaten before the end of the school day, and I ignore the thoughts of what/where those Cheerios touched before they were eaten. Yuck.

We have made posters with 100 stickers arranged creatively and paint stamps (with washable paint!) My problem with posters is we have to roll them up and tie them to make it to school on the school bus. I always think it’s going to be stomped and crushed and rolled around on the bus floor before it even gets to the classroom. But with time, I have realized that the poster might get a little dented and maybe a little dirty, but it will get there! It does not have to be perfect. What’s important is that the children enjoy the fun of creating whatever craft you decide on, and they have the fun and pride of carrying it on the bus and showing all of their bus friends what zany craft they put together. (There is always a little competition involved in the best or wackiest craft.)

Last year, we invested a little more money into our craft because I knew I could get at least 2 years out of it. My daughter helped put this together with glue and googly eyes. But I also had my younger son work on it too. He helped count the googly eyes in sets of ten. Now, after my daughter goes into the older grades where they absolutely do not celebrate the 100th day of school (cue daughter’s eyeroll), my son can use the monster hat too. He might decide that this is too baby for him this year, but maybe not. He’s on the edge of reason between openly enjoying life, and becoming a jaded 7-year-old who is entirely too cool for googly-eye-monster-hats.


4 Best Pets for Kids

Best Pets for Kids - Dogs that are good with kidsWhen it’s time to introduce a new four-legged friend to your family, you may be wondering what would be the right choice for your kids. There is a wide range of pets available, but some are more child-friendly than others. Here is a list of our top 4 favorite pets for kids.

1. Dogs

Everybody loves the family dog. Breeds such as golden retrievers, labradors, and Irish setters are traditional family favorites due to their high energy and mild temperament. If your space requires a smaller breed, pugs, bull terriers, and beagles make great kid-friendly choices. If allergies are a problem, choose a breed such as the poodle that has minimal shedding, or you can even find breeds such as the labradoodle that are considered hypoallergenic!

2. Rodents

Small rodents like rats, gerbils, and hamsters make great pets for children. They are very low maintenance and require only a little space, making them a perfect choice for a child’s first pet. Rats, especially, have earned a bad rap from their wild relatives—domesticated rats are actually very affectionate and smart enough to learn their name and even a few simple tricks. However, while their size is convenient for housing, it does make these animals susceptible to being dropped and lost or injured by rough play, so smaller children should always be supervised when handling their pet.

3. Snakes

While they may not be traditionally cute or cuddly, many types of snakes make excellent pets for children. Breeds such as the corn snake are very docile, and only need to be fed once a week! These pets are gaining in popularity and can be found in most pet stores, or you can visit a local reptile show for a wide variety of species at lower costs. Look for breeds such as the corn snake, king snake, or ball python, as these stay relatively small, and are easily tamed with a little handling.

4. Fish

 Fish are a great staple for childhood pet. Every member of the family can enjoy a fish tank, and a simple goldfish can teach even a young child the responsibilities of caring for an animal. Small koi or beta fish can be purchased for only a few dollars at a local pet store and will live quite comfortably in a small tank for many years.


Tips for Baby Bathtime

Bringing a new baby home can feel overwhelming at times. From keeping track of your little one’s feeding schedule to mastering the art of swaddling, there is a lot to remember, but the learning curve isn’t as steep as you might think. Bathtime, in particular, can be a breeze. Just follow these helpful tips.

It’s all in the temperature.

Babies aren’t able to regulate their own temperature very well early on. So, be sure that the bath you draw is warm and the room is comfortable. Soaping up and rinsing shouldn’t take too long. That’s why it is always a good idea to have a warm, fluffy towel waiting for you when bathtime is over.

Be gentle.

Babies aren’t doing much to get dirty. So, it doesn’t take much to get them clean. Use mild soap sparingly and wash the hands and diaper area well, taking care to avoid eyes and ears.

Rinse, dry, repeat.

After you are done washing, make sure that all of the suds have rinsed clear before wrapping your baby in a towel. Baby skin is very sensitive. So, it’s always best to avoid fragrances, lotions, and oils, unless your doctor recommends it.

Many doctors will advise parents to delay the first bath until after the umbilical cord has healed and fallen off. If you have any questions about when to start bathing your baby, discuss them with your pediatrician. Always stay with your baby throughout the bath and never go farther than an arm’s length away.

If you keep these tips in mind, you’re sure to have an enjoyable bathtime for you and your baby.


When to Introduce Foods to Your Baby

The first year of development is an exciting time for a new baby. There’s so much to see, do, and taste! It is fun to help our children explore their environment by introducing new textures and tastes into their world. However, there are a few general guidelines that can help you and your baby during this time of exploration.

Birth to 4 months

Baby should be enjoying only breast milk or formula at this time. His or her gastrointestinal system is still developing. So, no solid food, juice, or water.

4 to 6 months

Bring on some soft solids! If your baby has started holding their head steady, sitting up, and closing their mouth around a spoon, they may be ready for cereal and pureed foods. Start out simple with sweet potatoes, squash, bananas, or pears. You can also add rice cereal to their formula or breast milk.

6 to 8 months

Expand the horizons of soft, solid foods. You can now add strained fruits and vegetables and pureed meat or tofu on top of the soft solids your little one has been enjoying. While variety is great, be sure to introduce each food one at a time. Space them apart by three days or so in order to help gauge possible allergic reactions.

8 to 12 months

Add finger foods! Now is the time to start placing small pieces of ripe fruit, teething crackers, O-shaped cereal, yogurt, and cooked beans with soft skins in front of your baby. Allow them to experiment with picking up the food and transferring it to their mouth.

If you have any questions or concerns about which foods to introduce to your baby and when, be sure to discuss them with your doctor. He or she will be able to guide your choices based on your baby’s individual needs and your personal preferences.


Teaching Your Kids Manners

“What do you say when you want something?”
“And what do you say now?”

I feel like I’m forever reminding my toddler to insert “please” and “thank you” into his everyday language. As exhausting and repetitive as it may seem, I am trying my best to enforce a habit that should be automatic. I would love it if my two-year-old really and truly felt thankful that I just poured him another glass of juice, but in the meantime, I’ll have to settle for memorization of the social script.

If you have been trying to teach your kids manners and you are wondering why the lesson isn’t sticking, take a look at your own behavior. One of the best ways to get the behavior you desire is to model it yourself.

Are you saying “please” and “thank you” with family members and strangers? Are your table manners what you would expect of your kids? The “do as I say, not as I do” approach may work when you’re around, but it will definitely lack the foundation to carry through the teenage years and beyond.

Take notice when they remember their manners! Kids who don’t get attention when they are being good could try to get that attention in other, negative ways. Don’t just gloss over the fact that your toddler thanked you for the string cheese. Instead, applaud him or praise her! The lesson is more likely to stick if it is associated with good feelings.

Lastly, make any corrections on the spot. If you think that your mama memory is short, try on toddler shoes for a day. Bringing up the fact that your four-year-old didn’t say “thank you” at the ice cream store will not help to change his behavior. Prompt him at the counter to mind his manners and make sure the ice cream isn’t handed over until he does.


Tips for Traveling with Teens

If you have survived the toddler years, you might think that your days of tiresome travel are behind you. However, teenagers are their own breed and often pose a unique set of challenges that can put any family vacation on a one-way track to frustration. However, with a little bit of planning ahead, you can keep your trip on track.

Plan with them.

Make sure that your teenager is part of the decision process when it comes to deciding where to go and what to do. He or she will feel more involved, and they are more likely to be aware of the bigger picture even in the midst of minor setbacks like a flight delay.

Be flexible.

Now is the time to bend the rules a little. Let them sleep longer or stay up late, for example. Yes, your teenager still needs discipline and shouldn’t be allowed to run wild, but it’s important to remember that they are on vacation too. If a major meltdown does occur, address the issue promptly and put it behind you. Don’t dwell on the situation or bring it up later in the trip. Instead, focus on making the most of the rest of the vacation.

Bring a friend.

If it is in your budget, offer the option for your teenager to bring a friend. For some families, this may detract from quality “family time,” while others will do better with the distraction. So, it really depends on what’s best for you.

Let them make decisions along the way.

You’ve incorporated them in the planning process, and you’ve been flexible throughout the vacation. It’s time to let them make a few decisions! Where do they want to eat? What do they want to do? As mentioned above, keep in mind that it’s their trip too.

In the end, teenagers really just want to be treated like adults. By incorporating their feedback and treating them with respect throughout the trip, you can increase the chances of everyone having a great time together.

This is the final post in a series of posts offering pointers for traveling with children during summer vacation. Whether you’re taking a trip with your newborn or you’re hopping in the car with young children, with a little bit of preparation, the whole family can have an enjoyable time!


Entertaining Your Child Over Summer Vacation

Summer vacation! Now there are two words that elicit images of sunshine and freedom in school-age children across the nation. They are also two words that invoke fear in the minds of many moms and dads. Without the daily routine of school, what are your kids going to do week in and week out? How do you keep them entertained? How do you keep them out of trouble? Thankfully, there are many options to keep your son or daughter busy and make
the most of this time away from the classroom.

Camp

Summer camp, day camp, week camp, horse camp, reading camp, computer camp – the list goes on. Depending on where you live, there are often several local programs for kids in a wide range of age groups. Visit your local library or YMCA for more information, if you can’t find resources online.

Fun

Amusement parks, swimming pools, water parks, fairs, science museums, and zoos offer great day-trip opportunities for kids. It is a good idea to plan ahead and decide whether or not to invest in passes and memberships in order to cut down on cost.

Art

Kids love to create! Foster their creative side by exposing them to opportunities to view other art and create their own. Some of the best experiences are those in which children are given a set of materials to work with and no final result is expected.

With a little imagination and effort, the opportunities for entertaining your children during those long summer days are virtually endless. However, it is important to keep in mind that it is not your job to fix the “I’m bo-ored” problem every day. Teach your kids to find things that they like to do and make choices to entertain and educate themselves. Before you know it, you’ll be shopping for back-to-school supplies again! So, enjoy those summer vacation days while they last.


Tips for Traveling with Young Children

None of us wants to be the exhausted and embarrassed mother with an out-of-control toddler. Luckily, there is a way to travel with small children that doesn’t involve losing your sanity. It often takes a lot of preparation and a little bit of work, but you can successfully travel with your toddler. Depending on the length of your trip, there are a number of different things you can do to develop a fun culture of travel within your family.

Short-term

If you’re just headed across the state to grandma’s house, make sure that you pack plenty of juice boxes, string cheese, animal crackers, and pre-cut fruit. We all know how cranky we can get when we’re hungry, and the same is true ten times over for toddlers.

Mid-range

If you’re flying across the country for a much-anticipated trip to Disneyland, you’ll want to pack the short-term items plus a few distractors. Crayons, small toys that don’t make much noise, bright paper, puppets, and other fun items can be brought out and presented one at a time through the trip. Enhance the excitement and distraction by wrapping them before you leave and your child will be even more impressed with the contents.

Long-haul

If you’ve decided to brave international customs and fly over the ocean, you’ll want to bring both short-term and mid-range items along with a focus on safety. Many families have a basic emergency medical kit with supplies for bumps, bruises, and scrapes along the way. It is also good planning to bring basic childproofing items, such as electrical socket covers, for the hotel or living quarters.

When traveling is stressful, most passengers around you, especially fellow parents, will be easy-going. If your child does act out despite your best planning attempts, don’t forget to apologize. Simple and sincere words can go a long way. And a little bribery never hurts either!


This is the second of a series of posts offering pointers on traveling with children during summer vacation. We’ve already covered tips for traveling with a newborn and traveling with teenagers is next on the list. So, keep your eyes peeled!

Tips for Traveling with a Newborn

It’s that time of year again! Families across the country are preparing to hit the road for summer vacations, but if you’ve got a newborn at home, you might be a little nervous about the idea of traveling with an infant. But, the good news is that it does not have to be a stressful experience.

Whether it’s a road trip across the state or an overseas flight, with a little preparation, it is possible to survive – and even enjoy – the journey with your new baby. Plan ahead to help reduce potential stress and make the trip memorable.

Keep Your Routines

A happy baby is safe and secure in his or her surroundings. Being able to predict what is going to happen next can help to establish a comfort level for them. While it’s not always possible to maintain the same routines that you have at home while you’re on the road, ensuring that nap times and bedtimes occur regularly can help to keep your baby rested and less fussy.

Plan Surprises

Depending on the age of the baby, distraction may be your most valuable tool. Circumvent fussy times by pulling out a favorite (or new) toy. Be sure to bring a few alternatives to swap out when your baby gets bored.

Bring Food and Water

Nothing can make a baby crankier than being hungry. And let’s be honest, the same goes for us. Make sure you have snacks packed for yourself and plenty of formula or breast milk for your baby. If you are traveling by car, you may need to pump ahead. For airplane trips, invest in a good nursing cover.

Relax

By planning and packing ahead, the actual day of travel should be relatively stress-free. Babies feed off our energy, and they can get very fussy if we are particularly nervous about missing a flight or where to stop next to fill the tank with gas. So, relax and enjoy the journey!

This is the first of a series of posts offering pointers on traveling with children during summer vacation. So, keep your eyes peeled for more tips on taking trips with young kids and teenagers in the coming weeks!

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