Summer Camps

Is My Kid Ready? Should I? Why? What Should I Say?

Benefits of summer camps

  • Provide opportunities to develop maturity and independence
  • Promote flexibility, problem solving, and social skills (in a fun setting)
  • Specialty camps – for specific sports, interests, or children with specific diseases – offer a way for kids to gain new skills with kids who have similar interests.

How do you know when a child is ready for camp?

Generally, children are ready for an overnight camp between 8-10 years of age. Parents know their children best and should know if they are mature enough to handle it. A shorter, “trial” camp is often a good route for first-time campers.

Some indicators that your child may be ready:

  • He can get himself dressed, teeth and hair brushed, and show some independence during daily routines
  • She has had a successful sleepover at a friend’s house
  • Your child is able to verbalize concerns to an adult comfortably

Talk with your child about camp

Include him in the decision-making process to find a camp that’s right. Schedule a tour of the camp ahead of time if you can.

Another tip is to talk with your child about specific scenarios and how to handle them. What if she doesn’t like the food one day? Or if she’s feeling sick? Counselors are trained to handle these situations so encourage them to confide in a camp counselor.


Manage your own expectations – and emotions!

Many children have a great time at camp and often forget to call or write home every day. And if they do, you should be prepared to hear a range of emotions. If your child is upset, be supportive – but don’t give him an easy out to come home. Everyone has bad days, and learning to cope with them is part of the experience.

Telling your child that you have confidence in your child to succeed at camp is also important. Adds Dr. Monaghan: “Kids pick up on adults’ social cues, so if you’re anxious about camp, try not to show it.”

For all those first-time campers (and parents out there), good luck! 

Trampoline Safety

How to Keep Kids Safe on Trampolines

Pediatric healthcare providers know how addictive and fun trampolines can be for kids. Unfortunately, we often see trampoline-related accidents because kids don’t understand the proper safety precautions before they start jumping.

As a result, we find ourselves treating fractures and sprains in the wrists, back, and knees. As a parent, it’s vital to monitor trampoline activity to make sure your kids stay safe.

Here are few tips to keep your kids safe while they’re on the trampoline.

  • Do not allow tumbling.Tumbling presents more opportunities for injury. If your child wants to tumble, consider enrolling them in gymnastics, where a professional can teach them how to tumble safely with the right equipment.
  • Consider trampoline placement. The placement of the trampoline is important. It should be on a flat, level surface. Avoid cement or hard surfaces and try to place the trampoline on soft, cushiony surfaces like grass. Try to place it in a relatively open area, with few trees, keeping other objects like tools and toys far away. If you don’t have space like this, reconsider purchasing a trampoline as it could present immediate safety concerns.
  • Maintain the trampoline. Pack your trampoline away in the winter so the natural elements don’t weaken or destroy it. Check the trampoline netting, padding, poles, and screws each month to make sure everything is still tight, attached, and secure. There shouldn’t be any holes or deflated cushioning. It’s wise to also install a safety net upon purchasing a trampoline.
  • One child at a time.There should only be one child jumping on the trampoline at any time. More than one child increases the chance of an accident.
  • Never leave your child alone.Kids should always have an adult spotter to watch them while they’re jumping. That way if there’s an injury, an adult can be there immediately to assist.
  • Take injuries seriously.It’s important for kids to take any injuries they have on the trampoline seriously. Often, kids will not admit when they’re feeling back, wrist, knee, or head pain from the trampoline for fear of it being taken away. If you see your child experiencing pain or see that they have injured themselves, make sure they rest, elevate, and ice the injury. If you’ve administered pain relievers and they are still experiencing discomfort, visit our ER for x-rays. As always, stop trampoline use while your child recovers from an injury and if there have been multiple injuries in a short amount of time, consider removing it altogether.

Laundry Detergent Pods Poisonings


Since laundry detergent pods were introduced in the U.S. in 2010, emergency departments around the country have seen a number of children, generally toddlers, who have ingested (or eaten) these packets.  It is important to know how to protect your children and what you should do if your child does ingest a liquid laundry detergent packet.

Laundry detergent pods poisonings are relatively rare and often accidental; however, most cases are completely preventable. Toddlers are the most likely to be affected because the capsules are small and colorful, like candy, making them appealing. Laundry detergent pods contain a thin, water-soluble membrane that will dissolve and expose the detergent when in contact with saliva or moist skin.

What You Need to Know

Often, toddlers are unable to communicate what they have ingested. The most telling signs are the smell of laundry detergent and remains of the pod’s membrane or colorful liquid on their skin or clothing. Common symptoms include:

  • Drooling
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Irritated skin or eyes
  • Choking

If your child does ingest liquid laundry detergent packets, the health effects can be mild to severe. Severe cases often result in complications with airways and respiration symptoms. In any case, it is best to call poison control at 1-800-222-1222. They can then direct you on the best option for you depending on your child’s symptoms.

Many chemical ingestions require the use of activated charcoal as a treatment method. This treatment should NOT be used in these cases. Laundry detergent is an alkaline substance and is hazardous if vomited. In addition to having no benefit in these cases, activated charcoal can occasionally induce vomiting.


The best way to prevent a laundry packet detergent ingestion is by taking proper precaution. The most effective prevention is to always keep all packets and any harmful chemicals out of a child’s reach.  Remember, even surfaces that seem hard to get to may be in reach for more adventurous children.

You should also ensure that the packets are in a container that will not be susceptible to liquids or moisture. A childproof container is the most safe and will prevent any young child from accessing these packets.

The Centers for Disease Control and Safe Kids Worldwide, founded by Children’s National Health System, have more information about liquid laundry detergent packet ingestions, the signs and symptoms, and how to prevent these ingestions.

Cholesterol: Keeping It Right!

High levels of cholesterol have been shown to be a major factor contributing to heart disease and stroke, and medical research shows that these diseases have their roots in childhood. More pediatricians are screening lipid and cholesterol values in children, especially if there’s a family history of high cholesterol or early heart disease in parents or grandparents. “Early” means before age 55 in men and 65 in women. Also, with the increase in childhood obesity, more kids are at risk for problems with fat and sugar metabolism that affect cholesterol.

Cholesterol gets a bad reputation sometimes. It is a critical ingredient for many things we need to live like cell membranes (we have trillions of those) and vitamins and hormones. But it is a waxy substance that doesn’t mix very well with water, and humans are, after all, made up of about 70% water.
The work of cholesterol is so important that every cell in the body knows how to make it! If you never ate any cholesterol, your body would still make enough to run smoothly. Only some cholesterol comes from animal foods we eat, like egg yolks, meat, fish or dairy. Some cholesterol gets made from fat and sugars in the diet.
The levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in our blood depend on how much fat and cholesterol our bodies eat and make, how they are packaged, and how well they get in and out of our cells. Some of this is determined by genes we inherit. Moving muscles activate pathways important for packaging the fats and cholesterols in our diets healthfully. Eating right AND exercising are synergistic, not additive!Cholesterol Lipoprotein Packages
All of your body’s cholesterol and triglyceride is packaged in three main kinds of interconnected lipoproteins described by their density (how much they weigh for their size).

Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are the primary cholesterol carriers. If there’s too much LDL in the bloodstream, it can build up on the walls of the arteries that lead to the heart and the brain. This buildup forms plaque – a thick, hard substance that can cause blood vessels to become stiffer, narrower, or blocked.

High-density lipoproteins (HDL) carry extra cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it’s processed and sent out of the body. It can even help remove cholesterol from already formed plaques.

Very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) don’t carry too much cholesterol but have a lot of triglycerides so are only elevated when there is a problem processing fats and triglyceride levels build up too high.

High levels of LDL increase the risk for heart disease and stroke. High levels of HDL can help protect against these diseases. High levels of VLDL are a risk factor mostly because they are associated with lower levels of HDL and higher levels of LDL. It’s all connected!

Kids who are physically active, eat healthy foods, don’t have a family history of high LDL or triglycerides (VLDL) and/or low HDL, and aren’t overweight probably aren’t at risk for cholesterol problems. Your doctor can help decide whether to have your child’s cholesterol level checked and what the results mean.

Here are 10 ways to help keep your family’s lipid and cholesterol packages at healthy levels: 

1. Know your own cholesterol level, and if it’s high, ask to have your kids checked.
2. Serve a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, and whole grains—foods naturally high in fiber and loaded with nutrient value.
3. Choose lean meats and flexitarian protein alternatives, including fish, legumes (dried beans, peas, and lentils), and tofu or other soy products.
4. Limit solid saturated and especially trans fat intake. Instead, choose healthy unsaturated fats from fish, nuts, and olive and canola vegetable oils.
5. Drink water and low fat milk. Avoid sugary drinks including juice.  Try to always eat, rather than drink your fruit.
6. Limit foods with added sugars.  Make most of your grains fiber-rich whole grains. Too much refined sugar and fluffy, white, fiber-free starch quickly turns into sugar which is then made into fat (triglyceride) by the body and forced into VLDL packages that can negatively affect the quality and quantity of your LDL and HDL packages.
7. Limit commercially prepared baked and highly processed foods – most are low in fiber and high in unhealthy fats.
8. Get plenty of exercise. Exercise helps boost healthy HDL levels in the blood. Kids 2 years of age and older and teens should be physically active at least 60 minutes a day.
9. Margarines and yogurt drinks fortified with plant sterols can help reduce LDL by more than 10% together with a healthy diet. Lots of vegetable servings provide sterols too! The amount of daily plant sterols needed to lower LDL cholesterol is at least 2 grams.
10. Make living healthier a family affair. Kids aren’t the only ones at risk. The strides you take to improve your family’s lifestyle can have a positive effect on your family’s energy and health not only now, but far into the future.


Most babies will cry an average of 1.5 to 2 hours per day, but babies with colic cry more than 3 hours per day for 3 or more days per week. Colic usually happens between 3 weeks and 3 months old – all of these 3’s are considered the “rule of 3’s” for colic. True colic affects about 1 in 6 babies.

A colic cry is high-pitched, intense, and not relieved by normal measures (feeding, changing the diaper, or holding your baby).

Colic is thought to be caused by gas bubbles trapped in the intestines. It is also affected by a few things:

– Temperament; some babies are naturally fussier and cry more than others

– Allergies; babies with a true milk allergy or other food allergies tend to have more colic symptoms

– The emotions around the baby; babies who are under stress from a lot of charged emotions in the house tend to get more colic

– Infrequent feedings; babies who eat every 2 hours are less likely to get colic than those who eat every 3 hours

Ways colic can be treated:

– Physical therapy moves: bicycle legs, tummy rubs, tummy time, and back rubs can all help

– Medicines: simethicone is a medicine that is very safe because it’s not absorbed into the bloodstream, it simply breaks up large gas bubbles in the intestines into smaller ones that can pass through easier and with less pain

– Herbal remedies: mint, chamomile, fennel, and licorice tea, 2-4 oz per day at most (given a few sips at a time throughout the day)

– A warm (not hot!) water bottle on your baby’s tummy

– Slow rocking motions (in your lap in a glider, in an infant swing, a ride in the car, a walk in the stroller, etc.)

– Homeopathic remedies; check with a homeopath to choose the right remedy for your baby

Remedies that have not been proven to help colic, and might even make your baby worse:

– Gripe water; since it’s not FDA regulated, each formulation of gripe water is different, and some contain alcohol or other poisons. Check with your doctor before giving gripe water to your baby. Some contain Belladonna, some Roman emperors were assassinated with this.

– Changing formula; this can actually upset your baby’s tummy more

– Sedative medications, antihistamines; these are dangerous in babies as they can suppress your baby’s breathing

When to see the healthcare provider for colic:

– When your baby cries for more than 3 hours every day

– When your baby is having trouble eating, or has diarrhea or weight loss

– When colic symptoms happen before 2 weeks of age, or after 3 months of age

– When your baby has projectile vomiting (shoots more than 2 feet away) and is hungry after vomiting

Fainting (Syncope)

Fainting: When to Worry

girl playing soccerFainting (also known as syncope) is common, particularly in teenagers. This brief loss of consciousness goes by multiple names: Vasovagal, neurocardiogenic, reflex mediated, vasodepressor and orthostatic syncope. Though it can be a frightening event, the common faint lasts just seconds and is typically not a sign of a dangerous problem. A bigger concern is avoiding injury during the fall.  Less often, a faint can be a warning sign of a life-threatening condition. Knowing the difference between a potentially dangerous faint and the more common, benign faint may seem intimidating, but there are clues that can help guide a family or provider to seek additional help and evaluation.

The cause of syncope often may be found in the story: The circumstances in which it occurs, and the signs and symptoms felt by the individual prior to the event. Benign (or nonthreatening) fainting occurs in classic settings, including:

  • Standing for a long time
  • Warm environments
  • Sudden changes in position
  • Dehydration
  • Uncomfortable circumstances, such as needle exposures or the sight of blood

There are other, less classic but equally innocent triggers for fainting, including:

  • Urination
  • Hair brushing
  • After finishing intense exercise

Most people feel the faint coming. Symptoms before a benign faint may include dizziness or lightheadedness, feeling hot or clammy, sweating, nausea, appearing pale, feeling palpitations, and having dimming or blurring of vision.  An innocent faint may be accompanied by brief seizure activity. After the faint, many people feel tired or nauseated, but they are alert and aware of their surroundings. Drinking plenty of water every day can help prevent a common faint.

An atypical faint that may be related to a heart condition more often occurs without warning or may occur during exercise. The potentially dangerous diagnoses that can cause an atypical faint include very fast and irregular heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias) and heart conditions that prevent adequate pumping of blood. Arrhythmia syndromes that can lead to a dangerous ventricular arrhythmia include Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) and inherited heart rhythm disorders, such as long QT syndrome. Structural or functional heart disease with potential for a dangerous faint includes cardiomyopathies (hypertrophic, dilated, arrhythmogenic and noncompaction), congenital heart disease with obstruction to aortic or coronary blood flow, and pulmonary hypertension.

Fainting may be the first indication of a more serious problem. Evaluation and diagnosis are important to ensure life-saving treatment. Patients should be evaluated immediately and referred to a cardiologist if they experience:

  • Fainting without an obvious trigger or in a non-typical setting
  • Fainting without any warning signs or symptoms
  • Fainting associated with exercise or stress, particularly occurring during exertion
  • History of almost drowning or receiving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Abnormal cardiovascular physical examination or electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)
  • Known or discovered WPW  (Wolff-Parkinson-White) syndrome
  • Family history of suspicious syncope, seizures, arrhythmias
  • Family history of premature cardiac disease or sudden unexplained death before 50 years of age.

Can Healthy Foods Boost Your Immune System?

You can probably feel it coming: a scratchy throat, a cough that just won’t quit and that tired, achy feeling. Cold and flu season is now arriving in your neighborhood. I work with families every day to guide them toward healthy choices that help children grow up stronger.

One of the most common questions parents ask me throughout the winter months is, “How can I keep my children from catching a cold or the flu this season?” While warding off sickness requires a daily commitment to healthy choices beyond just nutrition — such as staying active and exercising, getting enough sleep and washing your hands regularly — eating a well-balanced, colorful diet can also help you avoid common pitfalls.

Here’s some advice for a healthy start to the New Year:

Channel your inner Bobby Flay or Julia Child: By including children in snack and meal prep, choosing healthy foods can be fun. Set up a make-your-own smoothie station for kids to invent new smoothie flavors using low-fat dairy yogurt and their favorite fruits and vegetables. Strawberries are loaded with vitamin C and are easy to grab from the frozen section of the grocery store. Or pretend to be a famous Italian chef, cooking up mini-pizzas made with whole grain English muffins or pita bread, sauce and low-fat cheese. Top with veggies like spinach for vitamin E or red bell pepper slices for vitamin A.

Turn water into a sweet treat: Water is the cornerstone of a healthy immune system. It transports nutrients and oxygen to cells throughout the body, and it carries away waste products and toxins. But getting children to drink the recommended amount of water each day — approximately 5 to 10 cups based on age — can be daunting. Turn up the flavor and make water a sweet treat by freezing strawberries, blueberries and other fruit into ice cubes or using an infuser.

Be on the lookout for these missing colors:
Many families don’t have trouble getting enough starchy vegetables such as potatoes and corn, but as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Myplate tool points out, we all need to focus on eating more dark green, red and orange vegetables. These veggies give us fiber, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to keep our bodies and immune systems healthy. For example, dark green vegetables can provide vitamin K, folic acid, potassium and omega-3 fatty acids. Red and orange vegetables also can be great sources of powerful antioxidants, such as lycopene and beta carotene.Turn capturing these nutrients into an activity by making a veggie skewers workshop and encouraging kids to assemble the most colorful mix of vegetables possible.

Avoid chugging orange juice: Unfortunately, a mega-dose of a nutrient won’t have a magical effect on the immune system. If you don’t have deficiencies, there is no evidence that taking extra amounts of any vitamin will protect you. Instead, take small steps every day to keep your family healthy and make sure you’re getting the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. It’s likely more enjoyable than chugging orange juice and will help keep your immune system strong.