My Blog - Children's Medical Center

Posts for: August, 2019

Our pediatricians share three tips to help parents pack healthy school lunches their kids want to eat!


As children begin heading back to school, many parents have a hard time packing healthy lunches their children will actually eat. Multiple studies have found lunches provided by schools tend to be healthier than lunches packed by parents. And while school lunches have certainly become healthier over the years, you don’t have to rely on the school to provide your child with a nutritious meal. Here are a few tips to help you pack healthy school lunches your children want to eat!

Nutrient-Rich Foods From Multiple Food Groups Sustain Energy & Concentration


Eating nutritious foods gives children more energy, better concentration, and help them perform better in school. Healthy school lunches should include nutrient-rich foods from each of the primary food groups – Dairy, Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, and Protein. Choosing the right foods will provide your child with the protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fat they need throughout the day. Here are a few ideas of healthy food choices:

  • Replace white bread and traditional grains with whole grain options (whole wheat bread, bagels, English muffins, etc.)
  • Replace high-fat lunch meats with low-fat deli meats such as turkey.
  • Replace sandwiches with alternative meal options such as wraps, pitas, chicken, soups, and salads.
  • Keep your children hydrated with low-fat milk and water. You can also choose hydration-rich foods such as watermelon, cucumbers, grapes, and strawberries.
  • Try healthy snacks such as baked chips, home-made trail mix, yogurt, oatmeal cookies, and vegetables with dips. (Kids are more likely to eat vegetables when they have a dip such as ranch or hummus).
  • Pack fresh fruit or fruit stored in natural fruit juices rather than pre-packaged fruit stored in syrup.

Remember to check with your child’s school for any food restrictions. Many schools have restrictions on foods that often cause food allergies such as nuts.

Get Your Children Involved In Making Healthy Lunch Choices


One reason a lot of children like school lunches is because it lets them have some control over the foods they choose. You can incorporate this into healthier packed lunches by getting your child involved in packing their lunch. You can still guide their choices by offering a few healthy options for them to choose from. You can use this opportunity to teach your children how to make healthy food choices on their own. When your children feel like they are involved in making their own food choices, they are also more likely to eat the food that is packed.

How To Keep Packed Lunches Safe Throughout The School Day


When packing a lunch for your child to take to school, you also need to consider what needs to be done to keep the food safe until lunch time. Most schools do not offer refrigerators or freezers for lunches to be stored in. They also don’t offer microwaves to warm food up. Here are a few tips you can use to keep packed food safe for your kids:

  • Use a thermos to keep hot foods hot
  • Use an ice-pack to keep other foods cold. You could also freeze food overnight and let it thaw out in the lunch box during the day.
  • Always wash your hands before preparing foods. Remind your children they should wash their hands before eating too. You should also clean out lunch boxes every day.

If food is not kept at the right temperature, it may begin to grow harmful bacteria that can cause food borne illness within only a couple hours. Make sure you are taking the necessary steps to keep food at a safe temperature until lunch time.

Discuss Your Child’s Nutritional Needs With Their Pediatrician


Your child’s annual wellness visit is a great time to discuss any concerns or questions you have about their nutritional needs with their pediatrician. Your pediatrician will also be able to give you additional nutritional advice customized to your child’s unique health needs. Contact Children’s Medical Center today to schedule your child’s annual wellness visit with one of our board-certified pediatricians. 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 caring for your child’s whole-health. 

Did you know that the quality of your sleep has to do with more than just what time you go to bed at night and wake-up in the morning? Sleep hygiene is the term used to refer to the nighttime activities and habits we do to lead up to bedtime. A healthy sleep hygiene routine sets our children up for a good night’s sleep. Children who sleep well also perform better in school and have lower rates of physical and mental health problems. Here is what parents should include and avoid in their child’s sleep hygiene routine:

What To Do To Encourage A Healthy Sleep Hygiene Routine For Your Child


Your child’s sleep hygiene routine doesn’t just begin a couple hours before bedtime. The things they do throughout the day also contribute to their sleep hygiene. It is important to maintain a consistent wake-up time every day to prevent the body’s natural sleep cycle from being thrown off. You should encourage your child to start their day with exercise. Exercise in the morning helps children have more energy and be more focused throughout the day, which helps them fall asleep later that night. It is also important for children to get plenty of natural light throughout the day. This helps your child’s body follow their natural sleep cycle by associating light with being awake and darkness with sleeping.

Another important element to your child getting a quality night’s sleep is their sleep environment. Your child’s bedroom should be quiet, comfortable, and cozy. The room should also be kept cool to encourage sleep. Some children fall asleep more easily when they have soft, soothing music to listen to. Your child should feel safe and secure in their own bedroom.

Now it is finally bedtime. Your child should have a set bedtime routine. This routine will help their bodies naturally associate these bedtime activities with time to settle down and go to sleep. A bedtime routine may include:

  • Having a light snack
  • Taking a warm bath or shower
  • Brushing teeth
  • Listening to soothing music
  • Reading a bedtime story
  • Changing into pajamas
  • Having a specified bedtime

Bedtime routines are unique to your child and what works best for helping them get to sleep. What works for one child may not work as well for another. Adjust bedtime routines based on your child’s needs.

What To Avoid If You Want Your Child To Have A Healthy Sleep Hygiene Routine


There are also things you should avoid if you want your child to have a healthy sleep hygiene routine. The first thing every parent should do is incorporate screen-free time into their child’s bedtime routine. Children should turn off all screens such as TVs, computers, laptops, tablets, and phones at least one hour before bedtime. Your child should also avoid using their bed for any non-sleep related activity. Children love to hangout in their beds while doing all sorts of activity. But spending non-sleep time in a bed prevents our brain from associating the bed with sleep. Your child should also avoid caffeine. Ideally, children shouldn’t drink caffeinated beverages like tea, coffee, or coke at all. But if they do, they should not be drank in the afternoon or evening.

Discuss Concerns About Your Child’s Sleep Hygiene With Their Pediatrician


If you have concerns about your child’s sleep hygiene routine or the quality of sleep they are getting each night, discuss these concerns with their pediatrician. To schedule your child’s annual well-child exam with one of our board-certified pediatricians, contact Children’s Medical Center today. 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 helping you help your child get a good night’s sleep!  

We are just a few days away from school starting. You probably feel the back to school rush all around. Keeping your child healthy throughout the school year is one of the biggest worries among parents as school starts back up. When we put up to 30 kids in close proximity all day, our children are surely going to be exposed to new germs. So here are a few tips to help you prepare to send your children back to school healthy and keep them healthy all year long.

Back To School Also Means Back To A Routine Sleep Schedule


No matter our age, one of the best ways to keep our immune systems healthy and ready to fight disease is through getting a good night’s sleep. School-aged children need between 10 and 11 hours of sleep each night, and teenagers should get at least 9 hours of sleep. Many parents let children stay up later and sleep in longer during the summer. Start establishing and enforcing a healthy sleep schedule now. Set a specific bedtime and wake your child up around the time they will have to get up for school. Doing this now will make going back to school easier.

Active & Engaged Children Are Healthier Children


One of the greatest problems many parents face is pulling their child away from a screen and getting them to be active instead. It is very important for children to have screen-free times and zones. It is strongly recommended that electronic devices be removed from a child’s bedroom as they make it difficult for children to get to sleep and stay asleep. Daily exercise is an essential component to any one’s overall well-being. Being active helps improve our mood but also helps to boost our immune systems. Make rules regarding electronics for the entire family and prioritize immune-boosting activities such as family time, sleep, and daily exercise.

Defensively Tackle & Combat Germs


Acting defensively against germs will help keep your child and your whole family healthy throughout the year. Defensively tackling germs not only helps prevent your child from getting sick, but also prevents them from spreading germs to other people too. Here are a few tips to help you combat germs during the school year:

  • Encourage good hand washing habits
  • Give your child a small bottle of hand sanitizer to carry with them
  • Sanitize surfaces within the home regularly
  • Have your children change out of their school clothes when they come home
  • Regularly clean and sanitize school supplies such as backpacks and lunch boxes

Finally, immunizations are very important in helping your child’s immune system fight off and combat germs they come across. Make sure your child’s immunizations are up-to-date before they begin the new school year.

Make Sure Your Child Is Healthy Before Returning To School


Before your child heads back to school contact Children’s Medical Center and make an annual physical appointment with your child’s board-certified pediatrician. 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 helping your child return to school healthy and stay that way all year through!