My Blog - Children's Medical Center

Posts for category: Child Care

As parents we already have the life experience to understand the importance of good dental hygiene and routine dental care. Most adults have experienced the agony of a toothache or a cavity, or the shock of a tooth chipping at some point in their life. But parents often find it quite a struggle to encourage these same healthy dental habits in their children. Proper dental hygiene is extremely important in a child’s overall growth and development, even for baby teeth, as decayed or infected teeth can interfere with a child’s nutrition, speech development, and can even impact the child’s permanent teeth in the future.

While getting your child into a routine habit of taking care of their teeth can be difficult, there are a few things you can do to help make it easier. Here are a few tips to help get your kids started:

When Should A Child Start Brushing?


The easiest way to encourage and develop healthy hygiene habits in children is to start as young as possible. For dental hygiene, this means beginning to brush and care for teeth as soon as their first tooth appears. Pediatric dentists even recommend cleaning a baby’s gums after feedings, long before their first teeth appear. Parents will have to do this for their children at first but starting when your child is a baby helps establish healthy routines for their future.

Make Dental Care Fun For Your Child


Many children often try to avoid brushing their teeth and taking care of their dental hygiene. This isn’t because they are lazy or gross, they simply don’t find the task interesting or fun and they don’t have the life experience to understand the importance of it yet. Parents can help by making the experience fun and exciting for their children. Choose fun and colorful toothbrushes your child will like. If they are old enough to choose their own brush, let them. Use the time as an opportunity for your child to spend quality time and connect with you – turn brushing into a game or sing songs while your child is brushing. Finally, when it is time for your child to see a dentist choose one who specializes in pediatrics as they will try to make the experience more comfortable and fun for your child.

Using A Healthy Diet To Improve Dental Health


A healthy, well-balanced diet is important to your child’s dental health and their overall health and well-being. Foods rich in Vitamins A, C, and D, and calcium such as eggs, nuts, fish, green vegetables, beans, and poultry are important to a healthy diet. These days, many processed foods are high in sugar, starch, and carbohydrates, which can all be harmful to teeth. An unhealthy diet speeds up tooth decay and increases other issues with dental health. Try to avoid foods high in sugary, and especially pay close attention to the amount of sugar in juices and drinks.

Schedule Your Well-Child Visit Today


Your child’s pediatrician will also check their teeth for any signs of concern during their well-child visits and will let you know when it is time to see a dentist. Contact Children’s Medical Center to schedule your child’s well-child visit with one of our board-certified pediatric doctors. We have four convenient office locations in Palm Harbor, Westchase, Trinity, and Lutz. We also have extended hours and are open 7 days a week! We look forward to meeting you and your child soon! 

Hand washing is one of the best things we can do to protect ourselves from the spread of germs and illnesses surrounding us every day. As parents, we want to encourage our children to develop healthy hygienic practices, but it is often difficult for children to understand the importance of hand washing. However, with consistency and practice you can teach your children to make proper hand washing become a habit they will carry with them throughout their life. Here are a few tips that will help parents encourage healthy hand washing practices:

Explain Why Hand Washing Is Important


Children are naturally curious and love to ask “why”. This curiosity is what they use to learn life-long habits and behaviors and how to tackle the world around them. The good news is that there is a simple explanation you can provide to answer “why” hand washing is so important. You should remember to handle the question with care and answer in an age-appropriate manner that will explain hand washing helps prevent the spread of germs without scaring your child.

Lead By Example


Leading our children by example is often one of the best ways to get them to make something a habit. If your children see you washing your hands on a regular basis, they are more likely to want to pick up the routine too. Try to incorporate regular hand washing into different parts of your daily routine – for example, wash your hands as soon as you get home, before and after meals, and after playing with pets.

Make Hand Washing Fun And Exciting


Hand washing can seem like a mundane and boring task, but it doesn’t have to be. You can make the experience fun and exciting for children by investing in fun liquid hand soap, a steep stool that will make it easier for them to reach the sink, and their own personal hand drying towel. To encourage your children to wash their hands long enough to effectively kill germs – at least 20 seconds – make it fun by using that time to sing a song, dance, or count out loud. Finally, make sure you end the experience by offering your child praise or a reward. A reward for a child doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, often a sticker or a high-five is enough to satisfy a child. Children love receiving praise, especially from their parents, so this can be an important step in making healthy hand washing practices a routine.

What To Do If Your Child Gets Sick


Even with the best hygienic practices, everyone still gets sick on occasion. Everyone in the family should continue to wash their hands routinely to prevent the spread of illness to other family members. If your child does come down with symptoms of an illness, contact their primary care provider at Children’s Medical Center to schedule a sick visit. We will do our best to get your child seen as soon as possible. 

By Children's Medical Center
May 14, 2019
Category: Child Care
Tags: Sugar Effects  

Kids of all ages love to drink popular drinks that their peers enjoy, including sugary drinks like sodas and artificially sweetened juices. As these types of drinks have grown in popularity, so has the quantity per serving as well as the variety available to consumers. Because of these factors, increased consumption of sugary drinks by children has resulted in a number of rising health issues. Here’s a look at a few of the effects of sugary drinks for children and a few tips on helping your child reduce or eliminate unhealthy drink choices.


Health Effects of Sugary Drinks


One of the most worrisome effects of sugary drinks for children is the increase in obesity rates. Studies have shown that children who consume as little as one cup (8 oz) of sugary drinks per day gained more weight and body fat than their counterparts who drank artificially sweetened drinks instead. [1] As a result of the increase in body weight and body fat storage, there has been an increase in childhood Type 2 Diabetes. In fact, some of the fat that is stored inside the body and around the internal organs may not be noticeable from the outside. Even a healthy looking child who consumes an excess of sugary drinks can be laying the groundwork for Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, and even some types of cancer.


In addition to the major health effects outlined above, sugary drinks for children can have a major impact on dental health. Studies have shown that consumption of sugary drinks can cause early development of childhood cavities and early loss of baby teeth.[2] These two issues alone should cause parents to pause and think about their children’s consumption of sugary drinks. In turn, cavities can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Poor habits, such as choices in drink choices, are often carried over into adulthood, leading to further issues in dental health.


Last but certainly not least is the lack of nutrition in sugary drinks for Soda literally contains zero nutrients. It also suppresses the appetite so kids are less likely to eat wholesome, nourishing foods, turning instead to junk food snacks. Sugary drink consumers are also less likely to get the recommended daily levels of vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, and other nutrients. Phosphorus, a very common ingredient in sodas, can actually cause depletion of calcium in the bones. In fact, girls who drink more soda are more prone to broken bones.


In addition, caffeine can cause a real, physical addiction. Caffeine stimulates the adrenal gland to excess and can lead to adrenal exhaustion in children. Withdrawals from high levels of caffeine can result in symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, headaches, nausea, drowsiness and depression.[5]


Advice for Parents on Reducing Sugary Drinks for Children


The best way to help reduce the amount of sugary drinks your child consumes is to lead by example. Studies show that the amount of sugary drinks that a parent consumes directly affects the amount of sugary drinks the child consumes, regardless of how much they know about the health risks associated with these types of drinks. [6] This is not to say that the health risks should be ignored or downplayed. It is very important, of course, that both child and parent are educated about the risks that ongoing, excessive consumption of sugary drinks can have on children.


The next step is to teach children how to make good choices. Just telling them not to drink sugary drinks is not enough. Parents need to prove alternatives that will be both appealing and healthy for the child. Parents should provide drinks with less refined sugar, like 100% fruit juices (4 ounces or less per day). Teach them to avoid carbonated drinks as well as popular energy drinks that include large amounts of caffeine. Low-fat milk is a great alternative to soft drinks. It provides vitamins A & B, calcium, magnesium and protein; all things your child's body needs to grow. Of course, our preferred and highly recommended choice is bottled water.  It may not be as appealing to your child, but it will help prevent dehydration, dry skin and acne.


Another alternative is to offer fresh fruits and vegetables instead of sweet drinks. Juice in itself is not a requirement for a healthy and nutritious diet for children. Encouraging them to eat fresh fruits and vegetables instead of drinking juice will:


  • supply fiber that will aid in proper digestion
  • provide a healthy and nourishing option for snacks
  • help to establish better eating and drinking habits


If you do include juice in your child’s diet, try to limit it to 1/2 cup of no-added-sugar juice, and even then only occasionally. Encourage your child to eat the whole fruit or vegetables, and drink bottled water or milk rather than juice.


If you’re still looking for more information on the effects of sugary drinks for children and how to help establish a healthy and nutritious diet, take a moment to check out our newsletters.





  1. Ruyter JC, Katan MB, et al. A trial of sugar-free or sugar-sweetened beverages and body weight in children. N Engl J Med. 2012; 367:1397-406.
  2. Lim S, Tellez M, et al. Estimating a Dynamic Effect of Soda Intake on Pediatric Dental Caries Using Targeted Maximum Likelihood Estimation Method. Caries Res. 2019 Mar 19:1-9. doi: 10.1159/000497359.
  3. Ziegler AM, Temple JL.Soda Consumption is Associated with Risk-Taking Behaviors in Adolescents. Am J Health Behav. 2015 Nov;39(6):761-71. doi: 10.5993/AJHB.39.6.3.
  4. Ditmar MF. Behavior and development. In: Polin RA, Ditmar MF, eds. Pediatric Secrets. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 2.
  5. Kaplowitz GJ. An update on the dangers of soda pop.Dent Assist. 2011 Jul-Aug;80(4):14-6, 18-20, 22-3 passim; quiz 29-31.
  6. Lundeen EA, Park S, et al. Adolescent Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Intake is Associated With Parent Intake, Not Knowledge of Health Risks. Am J Health Promot. 2018 Nov;32(8):1661-1670. doi: 10.1177/0890117118763008.

Many parents put off having their children seen by their pediatrician until the child is sick or not feeling well. However, preventative care is extremely important to keeping your children as healthy as possible. A child experiences many periods of rapid growth and development as they age. Because of this, routine well-child check-ups are recommended to ensure your child is growing and developing the way they should be. Well-child check-ups are recommended more when a child is very young, such as for a newborn or infant, and decrease as the child ages – but no matter how old your child is, they should see their pediatrician for a well-child check-up annually at a minimum.


Preventative Care

Preventative care is one of the biggest reasons to have your child receive their annual well-child check-up. These visits provide the pediatrician the opportunity to see your child at their healthiest and to ensure they are providing the necessary preventative care to keep your child as healthy as possible. During a well-child check-up, your child’s pediatrician will review your child’s personal medical history and relevant family medical history, check your child’s vitals such as height, weight, and temperature, complete a comprehensive physical examination, complete health-risk assessments, and provide any immunizations that need updating.


Tracking Your Child’s Growth & Development

Measuring your child’s growth and development and tracking it over a period of time to ensure their development is age-appropriate and there are no concerns of a developmental delay is another important reason for taking your child to routine well-child visits with their pediatrician. Developmental screenings are provided at age-appropriate intervals to measure the child’s gross and fine motor, communication, problem solving, social, and emotional growth and development. Vision, hearing, and depression screenings are included in this part of the well-child visit at certain ages.


Building A Relationship With The Pediatrician

You and your child having a close and trusting relationship with their pediatrician is important for many reasons. If your child does get sick, they want to know the person they are going to see for evaluation and treatment is reliable and can be trusted. Even if your child is generally healthy, well-child visits provide the opportunity for the child to build a relationship with their pediatrician that will make them comfortable sharing information if concerns do arise as they grow older. The well-child visit is also a great time for you to discuss any questions or concerns you have related to your child’s health such as concerns with their eating or sleeping habits and what to expect as your child continues to grow.


Schedule Your Child’s Well-Child Visit Today!

Visiting your child’s pediatrician shouldn’t only happen when your child is sick. If you have fallen behind on bringing your child to their recommended well-child visits, contact Children’s Medical Center today to schedule an appointment with their primary care provider. We are proud to support a child’s whole health – and the well-child check-up is the first step to keeping them as healthy as possible.

By Children's Medical Center
March 20, 2019
Category: Child Care
The harder your children play, the harder they might fall. During childhood, fractures and broken bones are common for children playing or participating in sports. While falls are a common part of childhood,
Detecting a Broken Bone your pediatrician in shares important information to help you understand if your child has a broken bone. 
If your child breaks a bone, the classic signs might include swelling and deformity. However, if a break isn’t displaced, it may be harder to tell if the bone is broken or fractured. Some telltale signs that a bone is broken are:
  • You or your child hears a snap or grinding noise as the injury occurs
  • Your child experiences swelling, bruising or tenderness to the injured area
  • It is painful for your child to move it, touch it or press on it
  • The injured part looks deformed

What Happens Next?

If you suspect that your child has a broken bone, it is important that you seek medical care immediately. All breaks, whether mild or severe, require medical assistance. Keep in mind these quick first aid tips:
  • Call 911 - If your child has an 'open break' where the bone has punctured the skin, if they are unresponsive, if there is bleeding or if there have been any injuries to the spine, neck or head, call 911. Remember, better safe than sorry! If you do call 911, do not let the child eat or drink anything, as surgery may be required.
  • Stop the Bleeding - Use a sterile bandage or cloth and compression to stop or slow any bleeding.
  • Apply Ice - Particularly if the broken bone has remained under the skin, treat the swelling and pain with ice wrapped in a towel. As usual, remember to never place ice directly on the skin.
  • Don't Move the Bone - It may be tempting to try to set the bone yourself to put your child out of pain, particularly if the bone has broken through the skin, do not do this! You risk injuring your child further. Leave the bone in the position it is in.
Contact your pediatrician to learn more about broken bones, and how you can better understand the signs and symptoms so your child can receive the care they need right away.