Think Outside the (Lunch) Box!

 

Sometimes school lunches can get boring – both for parents to make and for kids to eat. It’s pretty easy to fall into a lunch rut when packing lunch is just one of many tasks to check-off every morning. As you get ready to kick-off another school year, we’ve got the recipe to keep boring lunches at bay.

Include a note.
Who doesn’t love a surprise? Wish your child good luck on a test, give them a pat on the back for a recent accomplishment, a note of encouragement or send a sweet message just because!
Use a fun lunch box.
If the lunch box features your child’s favorite character or color they will enjoy bringing it to the table each day. Individual plastic containers are fun to fill and are a great tool to teach portion control, and keep things separated - Bento Box containers are a great option.
Ditch the same old PB&J and try something new.
We’re not suggesting rolling sushi in the wee hours of the morning. Keep it simple. Here are some of our lunch-time favorites: •Hummus with pita bread and veggies for dipping •Turkey slices rolled around a red pepper strip and cheese stick •Whole grain mini bagel with cream cheese and sliced strawberries •Tuna (with the pop-off lid) with cucumber slices and whole grain crackers •Kebabs: o Meat (cooked) with cheese and veggies o Pieces of granola bar with fruit o Waffles and fried chicken o Grape tomatoes with mozzarella and basil leaves (don’t forget the balsamic vinegar drizzle!) •Whole grain cereal, yogurt and blueberries •A sliced hard-boiled egg, Canadian bacon and cheese on a whole grain English muffin •Leftovers from dinner or soup in a thermal container
Be cool.
Use a cold pack to keep food fresh and safe. They even come in fun colors!

Create a weekly meal plan.
Have your child help plan their lunches each week. The planning process will help understand healthy eating by including a variety of food groups as well as encourage your child to try new foods (fingers crossed!). Get your weekly school lunch planner template:

School Lunch Weekly Meal Planner

 

 

If you have any concerns around your child’s eating habits, connect with your pediatric provider. They’ll give you some food for thought.

 

It's easy to schedule an appointment with your pediatric provider – simply visit our online appointment tool, scroll to find your pediatric provider, and click to schedule an appointment at a time that works for your family!

 

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Tips for Traveling with Kids this Summer

 

How did anyone ever parent before smartphones? We all know the scenario: a family is sitting at a restaurant eating dinner and a young child gets restless. A parent hands over a phone or a tablet to keep them occupied while they finish their meal and have a nice conversation. This seems innocent enough, but we are learning that when we hand over screens or place a child in front of the TV, we are doing it at the expense of their language and socio-emotional development as well as physical exercise.

Time that a child spends staring at a digital device, or screen time, is time they are not interacting with other people. Learning to bond and interact with others is crucial for children starting at a very early age. Now, I’m not saying that parents need to engage in deep conversations or read books every time they interact with their child. Simple conversations with a young child, even narrating your activities helps. Screen time is a strictly passive activity. Kids are rarely, if ever interacting with a screen in a meaningful way. However, even the most basic of activities, such as building and knocking down towers of blocks, doing puzzles together or scribbling with crayons on a piece of scrap paper (or a napkin) help teach kids cause and effect, and foster human interaction. These are invaluable for stimulating language development and creating a healthy emotional foundation.

A child that has more than the recommended exposure to screens at a young age is more likely to lead a more screen-filled, sedentary lifestyle as a teenager and beyond. This often goes hand in hand with mindless, unhealthy eating. Kids playing video games all day aren’t usually reaching for apples and carrots. People with active lifestyles that include regular exercise and exposure to the outdoors tend to be more physically and mentally healthy in the long run. My recommendation to parents is to turn of the television and put handheld devices away. This is true for both kids and adults. It’s hard to ignore a TV that’s on or a phone that’s blinking with a notification. Parenting without screens is certainly more challenging, especially in the early years, but it’s definitely worth the investment in the long-run. Teaching your child to entertain him/herself without the aid of screens will benefit them throughout their childhood.

So, what are the age-based recommended limitations on screen time? Below are the recommendations from The American Academy of Pediatrics. Remember though that at ALL ages, less is more, especially in preschool/early elementary-aged kids.

Under 2 years of age: No screen time

Ages 2-5: Limit to one hour of screen time per day

Ages 5 and up*: Consistent limitations on screen time, ensuring children have healthy physical activity and sleep schedules as well as personal relationships and interactions.(*Notice this says “and up”. Screen time limitations are for everyone, not just children. It’s important for adults to limit the amount of time they spend plugged-in, not only for their own well-being, but to set a great example for children).

You can start by being aware of just how much time your family is spending in front of a screen. Jot down the number of minutes per day on a piece of paper on your refrigerator, or try this tool from the American Academy of Pediatrics, to create a customized family media plan:

 

Family Media Plan

 

 

For more ideas on quality programming and healthier use of devices, chat with your pediatric provider. They will help navigate parenting in an on-demand society.

It's easy to schedule an appointment with your pediatric provider – simply visit our online appointment tool, scroll to find your pediatric provider, and click to schedule an appointment at a time that works for your family!

 

Make An Appointment

 

 

Tips for Traveling with Kids this Summer

 

Traveling with children in-tow can be, well, stressful. From packing for the family to installing a car seat in your rental car, there’s so much to think about. As summer travel heats up, here are some reminders to help ensure you don’t come back from your family vacation more stressed than when you left.

1. Take it slow.

When traveling with kids allow yourself extra time. It's going to take longer than you think, and you want to do what you can to avoid getting into a stressful situation. Pre-check and plan ahead where you can to avoid waiting in long lines or plan for several stops to stretch fidgety legs along the way.

2. Medications don’t take a vacation.

You know your child and your family, think about what medicines you might need. Bring a first-aid kit, Tylenol or Motrin, Benadryl, sunscreen and of course, any medications prescribed to your child. Before your trip, study-up on any regulations for travel or your destination that might have an impact on bringing your meds.

3. Snacks are a must.

You’ll want to have some healthy snack and drink options for both the kids and the adults in your party. A flight delay or unexpected traffic can leave you with hungry and cranky passengers. Don’t forget to pack hand sanitizer and baby wipes (they aren’t just for babies!).

4. Easy access to essentials.

Medications, snacks, wipes and anything else you or your kids might need along the way should be within an arm’s reach. Bring these essentials in a carry-on, or keep them by you in the car for easy access.

5. Always have a spare.

Diapers leak, drinks spill. Be sure to pack a back-up outfit for your little ones and yourself, and a plastic bag for dirty clothing. Your fellow travelers will thank you.

6. Verify vaccines.

For trips that take you on a plane or out of the country, talk to your pediatric provider about which vaccines your child may need while on-board or abroad.

Bonus Tip:

Once you arrive at your destination, find out where the good coffee is sold! 

If you are planning a trip for your family and have questions about travel guidelines for vaccines or dietary advice, make an appointment with your pediatric provider.

It's easy to schedule an appointment with your pediatric provider – simply visit our online appointment tool, scroll to find your pediatric provider, and click to schedule an appointment at a time that works for your family!

 

Make An Appointment