What is it about kids and water? They are deliriously happy playing in the neighborhood pool or a wading pool in the backyard. It seems like such a basic part of childhood, that it’s hard to imagine that an average of 390 children under the age of 15 die annually from drowning, and 75% of those are children under the age of 5 (http://www.poolsafely.gov/drowning-deaths-injuries/). If your daycare provider takes your child to a pool, has a pool in the backyard, or sets up a wading pool during the summer, you might want to determine the precautions they take in order to keep the children safe.
It’s a definite plus for any day care provider to be certified in CPR and have taken classes in First Aid. When a pool is involved, knowing CPR may mean the difference between life and death. The pool should also be fenced off or, if it’s a wading pool, emptied of water when playtime is over.
It’s difficult to keep an eye on children at all times, but at the pool, it’s imperative. The daycare provider needs to pay attention to each of the children. Not only do they need to be watching the children, they need to know what to look for. On TV, drowning is always a noisy, splashy affair. In real life, it is more likely to be quiet and fast. As a parent, we know the kids are up to no good when it becomes quiet, right? When children play in the water, they are noisy. If they start splashing and calling for help, they need help. If they become eerily quiet, they may need help as well. You need to find out why they are so quiet (http://mariovittone.com/2010/05/154/). Even if they are not in danger, a quiet child in the pool may be exhausted or have another issue, and it may be time for them to take a break from the water.
As a parent, you can help prevent problems by taking your children for swimming lessons. Most recreation centers or city pools offer swimming lessons, usually for a reasonable price. There, the children will learn water safety and basics that will help them as they play in the water. However, don’t think that swimming lessons mean your child will not drown. Children need to be closely supervised when they are playing in or near water, no matter what.
Children love to play in the water. But it’s important for daycare providers and parents to take steps to prevent injury or death in a swimming pool: keep kids from getting into unattended pools, keep a close eye on kids when they are in the pool, know what drowning looks like, and teach kids water safety and give them swimming lessons.
A new article by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety was recently published going into detail about the safety of 2011 vehicles in regards to the LATCH system for child car seat restraints. The results were surprising, and a little disappointing. Even though the standards for child restraint safety have been in place for some time it is amazing the amount of modern day vehicles that do not seem to have child safety and car seat installation in mind.
As parents we try our best to keep our children’s safety at the forefront. However, the difficulty of many car seats to install along with many car models which are not set up correctly for the LATCH system. This has turned out to make it surprising difficult to make sure child car seat installation is correct. This has made for a potentially dangerous and even life threatening situation for our children.
Only 21 of the 98 top-selling 2010-11 model passenger vehicles evaluated have LATCH designs that are easy to use.
I know it might seem strange to question your daycare provider regarding your child’s safety. However it is absolutely essential that you do. It’s not a matter of doubt in your daycare provider ability, it’s about assuring your child is safe in any vehicle. If a daycare or childcare provider baulks at your insistence as a parent to inspect their car seat, make sure they know you trust them but you want to be absolutely sure that your child’s car seat is installed right. There is nothing wrong with being an over protective parent. It can save lives!
Unfortunately it is hard to say exactly how to install a car seat because there are so many different designs. Along with all of the different designs each model of car is a little bit different. This is the crux of the problem. However, there are a few things that you should keep in mind when installing a childs car seat.
Make sure the car seat is built and designed for the correct age, weight and height of your child.
Car seats should always be in the back seat of a vehicle. They should also be in the middle of the seat if there is a proper LATCH system. This maximizes their safety from both frontal and side impacts.
Tether’s should always be used for forward facing car seats.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing the car seat.
The bottom line is that our children may not be as safe as we are led to believe. As a responsible parent it is your duty to make sure not only your vehicles have their car seats installed properly, but also that your daycare provider has their car seats installed properly for your child.
Here are some of the most popular vehicles they tested and reported on.
2011 Models that Meet All 3 Easy-Installation Criteria
Audi A4 Quattro
Chevrolet Equinox LT
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew cab
Chevrolet Suburban LT
Chevrolet Tahoe LS
Chrysler Town & Country (2010)
Dodge Caliber Mainstreet
Dodge Grand Caravan Crew
Dodge Ram 1500 crew cab
Ford Escape XLT
Ford F-150 SuperCrew Cab
GMC Sierra 1500 crew cab SLE
Honda Pilot EX-L
Kia Sedona LX
Land Rover Range Rover Sport
Mitsubishi Eclipse coupe GS
Mitsubishi Lancer ES
Toyota Tacoma extended cab
Buick Enclave CX
Chevrolet Impala LT
Dodge Avenger Express
Ford Flex SEL
Ford Taurus Limited
Hyundai Sonata Limited
Toyota Sienna XLE
2011 Models That Don’t Meet Any Easy-Installation Criteria
Are you wondering what to do with the piles of new stuff you have for your kids? Are they outgrowing the toys you have been accumulating over the year? Is that tax time just around the corner? Here at Decide on Daycare we can help you with all of those!
It’s that time of year again, when we find ourselves buried under piles of new toys while we look at the piles of old toys to and try to figure out what to do with it all.
First things first, talk to your children and get them involved in the process of cleaning out and cleaning up the old toys. It’s important to teach them that it does not matter how many toys you have, but what toys you have. You can follow your own beliefs but it is a good idea to help your children determine the difference between educational toys and regular toys.
Which Toys are Which
Educational toys are ones that help teach A-B-C’s, counting, matching, shapes and colors, etc. When kids have these types of toys, they are playing and learning at the same time. It sets the foundation for their little brains to learn properly for the rest of their lives. It’s important as a parent to show excitement for these toys. Your children are going to feed off your excitement. Even if you are not actually excited about the educational toys you should still encourage them to play with these over the non-educational toys.
Non-educational toys will be more of the “standard” toys that kids often get. Things such as stuffed animals, cars, balls and other toys that are not directly related to things your children will need to learn and know to start school. These toys can be good, none the less, as they can help build imagination, sharing, and several other good behaviors. However, they can still often learn these same things through educational toys.
As a parent I try to keep the ratio between educational toys and non-educational toys at least 50/50. You can strive to make most of their toys educational. That way, the likelihood of them having higher quality play time is better.
As far as books go I try to encourage the same ratio as the toys, but I am much more hesitant to get rid of any books. The reason for this is even the youngest and most “babyish” books are great tools to help your children to read. Children will first learn to memorize the book. However, over time, they can learn to read the book as they grow older. You can really help them along with this by teaching them to skim the words as they read. By showing them you are helping them to learn to recognize the words. It may seem strange but your children can actually learn to recognize words prior to learning how to read or write.
Clean Out the Toys
Now that you have an idea of what’s what, start to go through your toys and books with your children. If you empower them to help and make decisions regarding what to keep or what to get rid of, it will make them feel like they are in control and will make this a much smoother process.
Make sure you talk through their decisions with them. If they want to get rid of something they play with every day, explain that that would not be good because they like the toy so much. On the flip side, encourage them to get rid of things that have sat in the bottom of the toy box without being touched for years.
Take this opportunity to throw away all toys that are broken or missing important pieces. Since they are getting new toys, there is no reason to hang onto the old stuff.
If they are unsure or you think they may actually want a certain toy later, you do have an option for a middle ground. You can tell them you can put their toy in “storage”. Put these toys in a bag or box and then put them in a place like a closet or spare room—someplace accessible to you but out of the way, and out of their sight. You might want to label this bag or box so you know it contains your child’s things, and put the date on the label as well. That way you know how long it has been since they played with the toys inside. If they ask for a toy, you can get it out of storage, but if it’s been six months, chances are you can donate them. If they realize that they want something from storage, you can get it back for them. If you do, don’t take them with you. They will want all the toys in the bag! Just get the one item they asked for and take it to them. Use your best judgment since the ultimate goal is to clear out the old to make room for the new.
If there are any special toys, something that was one a parent’s, or something that would make a good memento, put it aside special for them. It can be a nice surprise when they head off to college to get the stuffed bunny they carried around for their first three years of their life, or when they are expecting their first child to receive some special toys they had as a kid.
Lastly, make sure that you keep a list of everything that is going into the donation bags. This will come in handy later. Throw out the broken toys but anything that is usable can be passed to another owner.
Donate to your Daycare or Charity
There are many avenues to get rid of the unwanted but usable old toys your children have outgrown or no longer want. Use the list you created and send a copy to any of your friends that may have kids that are the right age for the toys that you have. Give a copy to your daycare provider and see if they want any of it. It can be fun for your child to find an old toy show up at daycare. Once you have talked to anyone you know that would want them, as well as your daycare provider, take what is left to your favorite charity.
Make a list of the toys you donate to charity. It is quite likely that these donations are tax deductible.
A Season of Getting and Gifting
It can be difficult for kids to understand the importance of why we give to others. It’s hard for them to grasp the idea of selfless giving. But if you help to reinforce this idea before the holidays and then back that up this time of year, you can help them to really absorb this lesson.
Explain to them that by donating their toys to their neighbor, family, daycare or charity is a great way to practice selfless giving. Show them how much you enjoy helping others and they will learn to enjoy giving as well.
Winter is at the doorstep, so it’s time for you and your daycare provider to prepare for cold weather. Responsible parenting requires preparing for winter weather with warm clothes and planning for possible cold weather emergencies.
Now is the time of year to talk to your daycare provider to determine what your child needs to bring to daycare for the coming winter season. If you have been with your childcare provider for more than a year, they may still have the cold weather gear from last year. If this is the case, you may need to replace some items with larger sizes, and replace items that may be worn out. Don’t put off purchasing cold weather boots and clothes. Cold weather can hit unexpectedly and you don’t want your child to be cold or wet at daycare. Your location will determine your child’s specific needs. Make sure they have a hat, coat, and shoes appropriate for the winter climate in your area. It is also a great idea to make sure your child has an extra set of clothes or two at the daycare in case they need to change. Make sure these extra clothes are also appropriate for the season. You don’t want your child to be stuck in shorts when there is two feet of snow on the ground!
Winter Preparation at Home
Now that you have made sure that your daycare provider has what they need, it’s time to make sure you also have what you need for your children at home. Your child’s extra clothes may already be at daycare or they’ve outgrown everything from last year. You might find that you are now short on appropriate winter weather clothes at home! This is a good time to stock up and be ready for the winter weather before it hits. Between wearing clothes out, sending them off to daycare, and simply outgrowing them, parents can count on purchasing at least a few sets of clothes and a coat or two. If the winter weather in your area gets cold enough for snow, it is also a good plan to buy a few hats and a few sets of gloves as well. Gloves and hats are very important when it gets very cold and these are the pieces of winter weather gear that your children are most likely to lose.
Winter Ready on the Go
As a responsible parent you will also want to make sure that you have a set of clothes stashed away in your car for your children. As with the other winter weather stashes, make all the gear fits. You don’t want to risk not having appropriate clothes for your children in case of a winter emergency away from home. Accidents happen and anyone can get stuck on the side of the road. It is very important to have everything you need to stay warm during these winter months no matter where you are.
It is also nice for parents to have spare clothes in the car to change your children’s clothes wherever you might be.
Donate your Old and Outgrown Coats and Clothes
Parents invariably find themselves trying to keep track of the huge amount of clothes, coats, shoes, and other items that children seem to go through so quickly. Oftentimes they outgrow these things before they wear them out. If they are in decent condition I would urge all parents to donate these to your local charities. Winter is often much more miserable for parents and their children when they can’t afford all of the things they need. A donation of an old coat or winter boots that are too small can make a huge difference and keep those less fortunate warm for the winter. So please do not throw these things out, give them to those that are in need.
Teach Your Children to Plan for the Weather
Finally, and one of the most important things you can do as a parent, is work to teach your child to prepare for the winter weather themselves. Kids are often absent minded and can run out to the car in a snowstorm without a coat because they are excited to go somewhere. You may not even notice because you are wrestling the infant into their own winter coat. Then ten miles down the road you discover your four year old doesn’t have a coat in a snowstorm. It might sound silly, but it happens.
Make it your goal as a parent to help to teach your children to stop and think about the weather. Not just what is happening now, but what might happen later in the day. If it is winter, they should always take a coat. Even if the morning is warm it might get cold in the afternoon. This really helps your children think about the day and gives them a sense of being grown up and responsible. While instilling important habits in them, you are also giving yourself a safeguard against that rush out of the house where things might be forgotten. Now your child is also thinking about what they are doing and the weather they might run into. You will find that your child will put their own coat on, shoes or even remind you that their sibling needs a coat as well. Compliment and reward this behavior in your child and you will be amazed how helpful they can be!
We just covered about how you should prepare to spend time outside with your children. It is important to teach them all the proper things needed before they head outside. The goal is to not only to teach them and make sure they have good habits while outside, but to get the children to do this on their own. If you’re dedicated and consistent with the rules, you will help keep them protected during their many hours of outside play time. In doing this you will also get your children to insist on safe habits at your daycare. This ensures a happy and healthy time outside, at home, at daycare, at other people’s houses.
The Children’s Play Time
As the children head out into the sun for play time, make sure to take note of the time. Check the Daycare Heat Index Safety Chart to see if it is hot or humid enough to limit your time outside. If it is, make sure to bring the children inside after that time limit has been reached in order to avoid any heat- related health issues.
It is very important to stick to the rule of keeping sunglasses and hats on at all times, unless the activity prevents it, such as swimming. If a child takes their hat or sunglasses off, they need to be done outside. If they cannot go inside, then they can sit in the shade and watch the other children play. They most likely will put on their hat and sunglasses to get back to the fun.
Drink Water, Lots of Water
The very best thing that you or your daycare provider can do with the children’s play time outside is to make sure they drink plenty of water. Every 15 minutes or so prompt the children to get a drink of water from their sports cups. If the kids are taking a drink every once in awhile on their own, that is great, and you should praise them for such behavior. However, this shouldn’t stop you from making sure everyone is getting a drink every 15 minutes or so. Have them drink as much as they want and if they run out, praise them for drinking lots of water and then happily refill it. When they are playing out in the sun it is almost impossible to drink too much water.
Watch for Signs of Heat Exhaustion
No matter what the weather is like it is a good idea to keep an eye on the children for signs of heat exposure. Children often play hard and this can bring on the symptoms of head exhaustion faster than temperature alone can. Watch for any of the children getting flush, very red, and unable to catch their breath, even when resting. If the children are playing hard use the 15 minute drinking breaks as a time to have them all sit down in the shade for a minute or two while they drink. Ask them about the game they are playing or talk to them for a few minutes about games they could play. This will help to get their attention and keep them at rest in the shade while they drink. Just a little time to stop in the shade is all that most will need. Then they can go back out to play.
If you notice that a few minutes, shade and a little water is not helping one of the children keep them a bit longer. Don’t let them go back to playing if they have not “recovered”. If they do not seem like they are recovering it may be time to call play time quits and all head back inside. If one child is having issues with heat exposure then the others are surely close.
A Long Day in the Sun
If you are out on a trip or activity that will keep you out in the sun for many hours it is very important to make sure that you keep everyone hydrated and have plenty of water along with you. Keep the children, and yourself, drinking at regular intervals. Make sure that whatever the activity you are doing you plan to have access to bathrooms during the entire thing. It may seem like a hassle but you want the children going to the bathroom often. That means they are getting enough water.
You or your daycare should make sure that they take along more sunblock so the children can get reapplications every few hours. If you will be on an all-day trip, make sure to plan official stops throughout the day to reapply sunscreen and to do routine checks of all the children to be sure they are not showing signs of heat exposure.
Heat exposure can be a very dangerous, even deadly, health risk. If you see any of the children showing signs of heat exposure take early and immediate steps to help them. Give them water, sit in the shade and make sure they cool down. If they don’t or other children are showing signs of heat exposure, be prepared to call your outing off early. The health of the children is so much more important than any trip or activity you have planned.
Done with the Sun
Whether you have spent the entire day outside or you the children are heading back inside from their morning play time at daycare, it is important to take steps to make sure the children are all fine, especially when it is hot and humid. Next we will talk about how to cool down and relax from playtime outside.
Summer is in full swing and it is important to keep your children safe both at daycare and at home. The best way to keep them protected from the heat and sun is to have great hot weather habits yourself! Your children want to emulate everything that you do and this includes how you prepare to spend time in the sun, what you do in the sun, and what to do after you have come inside out of the heat.
There are both short term and long term health issues when a person gets too hot, gets sunburn, or spends time outdoors without eye protection. It should be a rule at home to wear sunblock, sunglasses, and a hat whenever you go outside.
Many parents are shocked when they see my young children with their sun gear on. Even strangers ask how I get my children to wear their sunglasses and hats. It’s simple: If they want to play outside, they must have them on and keep them on. There is no debate, there is no compromise. If they want to go outside and have fun, they must follow the rules. If they don’t want to wear their gear outside, they will need to stay inside. Sure there are some struggles and fights with this, but now my children put their sunglasses and hats on without me even asking. If I say they can go play outside they tell me they can’t because they don’t have sunblock on. When you get to this point, it’s much easier for you, and much healthier for them. And if they do it at home, they will do it daycare. And when they do it at daycare it is likely that the other kids will do the same and they will all have a fun, safe time out in the sun.
Preparing for the Sun
Sunblock is a must! Scientists have linked many health and skin issues to sun exposure: premature aging, eye damage including cataracts, and skin cancer. It’s too easy to not worry about what will happen later in life but to take care of this threat now you are helping to teach your child good habits and possibly spare them much pain and suffering in the future.
A good rule of thumb is to use at least 45 SPF sunscreens. Anything less than that is not going to effectively block the sun, it will only “slow it down”. Your goal needs to be to block the sun and to keep the sun burns and other problems away. Not only should you apply sunscreen before going out in the sun, but also every hour for each 15 SPF of the sunscreen. So for 45 SPF, you should apply sunscreen every three hours. If the children are swimming or doing other strenuous activities that might wear off their sunscreen, cut that time in half, and reapply much sooner. It is all too easy to forget about re-application when you’re out having fun but it is very important to do.
Make sure to thoroughly cover all exposed skin, and get up underneath sleeves and pant legs a bit so the skin is protected when the child moves around. Make sure to apply sunblock to the ears and face, especially noses. Noses burn easily and ears are one of the most common places for melanoma.
The age of your child will determine what kind of sunglasses they may want or need so take this into consideration. Infants and toddlers can wear goggle-like sunglasses. It can be hard to get them to keep them on but if you put them on and then distract them with a toy or something else, they may forget they are wearing the sunglasses. If you just can’t get this young of a child to wear them, make sure they stay in the shade. By the time they can walk and run around, they are also old enough to learn to keep sunglasses on. For children a little older, take them with you to the store to pick out the sunglasses they want. This will get them excited about their own sunglasses and will make them eager to wear them outside. Be sure to pick up a few pairs as they will get lost and broken—it’s just the nature of kids. You will also want to put a pair in your purse, in the car, at home and a few for your daycare. You don’t want your child to go without protection for their eyes!
There are many different styles of hats, caps and other head wear. The important thing is to find something your child will like and use. With infants and toddlers it is a good idea to find a soft bucket hat with a brim, and preferably a chin strap to hold the hat on their head! When trying a new hat, use the same method as the sun goggles. When you put the hat on, distract them immediately with their favorite toy. Another useful trick is to have two of the same hat. Often they are not bothered by the hat they just want to see it and play with it. If you have a second one their curiosity may be satisfied. Hats for older children can be a lot of fun. Take them shopping and when you get their sunglasses also pick out some hats for them. Look for their favorite color or their favorite character. Make sure they have something they like and will want to wear. This will make it much easier to stick by the rules that everyone out in the sun must wear a hat. Sunburns on the scalp can be very painful and the top of your head is not something you can easily protect with sunblock!
Last but certainly not least, every child needs to have their own water container to take with them when they go outdoors. Try to pick something with a closed lid, like a sippy cup or a travel mug. It is too easy to spill their water while they are playing in the sun. If you can add a few ice cubes they may really drink it up! Cold water will really help their bodies stave off the heat as they drink when they are playing. Beware that ice may be a choking hazard so keep in mind the container you are using and if the ice can slip through the opening.
Time to Play Outside
Now that you are ready, make sure to praise everyone on a great job getting ready to go outside. Tell the kids that they are ready to go with their sunscreen, shades and a hat. Have them grab their water and head outside. If the kids put their water in the shade it will stay cooler longer. Encourage them to take frequent breaks to drink water, and drink as much as they want. Let them know you will happily refill their water containers if they need.
Now have fun playing with the kids outside!
Next up we will talk about what how to handle your time outside and what to teach the kids.
Summer is here and it’s an important time to make sure your daycare is following summer safety recommendations with your children. Even if a trip outside is supposed to be short, it’s best to make sure they always apply sun block, sunglasses, and wear hats when they are out in the sun. Granted, we should be protecting our children’s skin and eyes year round, but in the summer it’s especially important. We are all more likely to be outside, enjoying the nice warm weather!
When talking to your daycare provider, bring up sun and outdoor safety and make sure they are following good, healthy practices to ensure the safety of your children.
If you think your daycare provider may be touchy about you “questioning” them, you can try one of these questions to lead into a conversation about summer safety, and if there is anything you can do to help.
“Do you want me to bring in sun block or are you providing that for the children?”
“Would you mind if I left an extra set of sun glasses here for outside time?”
“I have a hat that my child just loves. Can we keep in in their cubby for outside time?”
“How long do the kids play outside on days like this? Do I need to apply sunscreen at home or do you do that before they go out and play?
These are just a few examples of how you can get into a conversation about sun safety with your daycare provider.
The first and most important thing that all parents and daycare providers need to know is the Heat Index. This is what the relative heat feels like when you take into consideration both the actual temperature and the relative humidity. Both of these factors play a crucial role in what effects the weather will have on your children.
Below is a Heat Index chart showing both the temperature and humidity and the areas of danger you should be aware of.
Green – Caution should be taken and you should keep an eye on signs that the children are showing signs of heat exposure.
Yellow – Limit time outside in the heat. Water should be provided. Remain in the shade when possible and keep outside play time in this temperature under 30 minutes.
Red – You should not be out in these temperatures unless you have to be. In times of extreme heat, children should stay indoors where it is cool. In these temperatures, you cannot keep them cool enough to stave off the effects of heat.
Health Effects of Heat Exposure
Heat exhaustion is a heat-related illness that may occur after you’ve been exposed to high temperatures for several days and have developed dehydration, which is an inadequate or imbalanced replacement of the fluids and electrolytes you’ve lost through excessive perspiration.
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
Heatstroke occurs when the body fails to regulate its own temperature and the body temperature continues to rise, often to 105°F or higher. This can happen in extreme temperatures because the body loses its ability to cool itself off. This is extremely dangerous and can cause brain damage as well as organ damage. It is very important for everyone to stay out of extreme temperatures due to this reason.
Symptoms of Heat Stroke
It is important to note that anyone showing signs of heat stroke should be seen by a medical professional. Heat stroke is considered a medical emergency.
Temperature over 104 degrees
Fast heart rate while resting.
Either heavy sweating or no sweating.
Skin that is red, hot, and dry, even in the armpits
Severe vomiting and diarrhea.
How to Stay Cool and Safe
Summer is a fun time and we all want to spend as much time outside as we can. It is important that we are being safe in the heat and even more important to ensure that your childcare provider is practicing healthy practices. To avoid problems, it’s best to keep trips outside to 30 minutes or less. This limits the children’s exposure to the sun and heat but gives them plenty of time to play and have fun. Make sure that water is available to them while they are playing. When the time is up and all the children come inside, they should drink a glass of water or two as soon as they get in. This is a great time to have them sit down for a snack and some water. Avoid giving them juice, pop or other drinks besides water.
If your child goes anywhere in a car or daycare van during the day (for instance, on field trips or to pick up other children), make sure the daycare provider has a procedure in place to make sure a child is not left in a car when an adult is not there. When the group gets to their destination, and when they return to the home or daycare center, make sure that an adult ALWAYS checks the car, van, or bus to make sure all the children are safely out of the car. It is easier than people imagine to accidentally forget a child in a car, and in the hot summer months, this can be a death sentence in as little as fifteen minutes. Ask that your provider never leave the children unattended in the car.
Whether you have a nanny, in home daycare provider, or drop your children off at a large daycare center, it is important, and it is your responsibility, to make sure they are keeping the safety of your children in mind in these hot summer months. It can be dangerous to assume that they know all of the best practices or that they follow the same guidelines you do as a parent.
Ensuring that your daycare provider follows good hot weather habits also makes it much more likely that your children will pick up on these good habits and carry them for the rest of their lives. Ultimately, you will be helping them to avoid so many problems that can arise from unhealthy and even dangerous habits in the heat.