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As schools across the nation close their doors to protect our children, teachers, faculty and families from the spread of COVID-19, parents are feeling the ripple effect to transition their children into a new stay-at-home and learn-from-home way of life. Here are a few things that can help your children learn from home.


Schools follow a schedule and your new way of life (however long that may be) should follow suit. By mapping out your day, you not only create a routine for your child, but also build in time to get your work done. Build a framework around what your child was doing at school, for example:

  • When would they usually eat breakfast, snack and lunch?
  • When are they used to taking breaks, going outside or having recess?
  • When do they focus best, morning or afternoon?
  • Break the day into small chunks, how many subjects or areas are you covering?

Play Time

Once you know what has to be covered and you’ve created your framework, add in some time to imagine, create and build. These can be 15- to 30-minute blocks depending on your child’s age and attention span. Don’t feel like you have to play with them the entire time — let them play independently and use their imagination as well. The more they play the more they learn to play. For older children include screen time, facetime or texting with friends— we may be distancing ourselves physically, but they still need social interaction with their classmates, and we live in a digital world where that is at our fingertips.

Make it Fun

During times of crisis, children feel the effects of major changes taking place. One way to help ease the tension is by keeping learning fun. A few ideas you can try are:

  • Set a timer for each section of learning
  • Take music and dance breaks
  • Have 'Simon Says’ stretch breaks
  • Enjoy recreational reading time
  • Go outside and get some fresh air
  • Location change; try doing some lessons at the kitchen table, others on the couch or even outside if it’s a pretty day

When creating the schedule, include your child in the process. If they play a part in the schedule-making process they’re more likely to follow it themselves. Let them write it out, use colors, markers, paint, paper and stickers to break up the day and make it their own.

As always, if you have any questions Children’s Medical Center is here to help in any way we can. We are open and here to assist you during these unprecedented times. Call us and schedule an appointment to discuss any issues your child may be having as they adjust to this new way of home learning.

As the cases of coronavirus increase across the country, many families are asking, ‘how do I know if I have it or not?” Many of the symptoms (fever, chills, body aches and cough) are similar to that of the cold or flu. However, there are differences and that is what’s key to pay attention to as you monitor your family’s health. Let’s break down each one:

The Common Cold

A cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory system that can be caused by more than 200 different viruses. Colds are contagious and can be passed to others with an incubation period of 1-7 days. It typically lasts 7-10 days depending on the strain. The most common symptoms of a cold are a runny and/or stuffy nose without a fever. Treatments include rest, fluids, acetaminophen, ibuprofen and over-the-counter medications.

Influenza or The Flu

The flu is also a viral infection of the upper respiratory system, but it can also infect the lower respiratory system. It is highly contagious with an incubation period of about 1-4 days and can last 5-14 days depending on its severity. Common symptoms of influenza are mild to high ever, headaches, cough, fatigue, body aches or pain. The flu can become severe causing pneumonia which could be fatal to some people. Treatment of the flu includes rest, fluids, acetaminophen and if caught early, an antiviral drug like Tamiflu.

Coronavirus or COVID-19

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a relatively new type or strand of coronavirus that effects the upper respiratory system, and in some cases the lower respiratory system. It is extremely contagious spreading from person-to-person through coughing or sneezing. The incubation period is about 14 days, however there may be zero symptoms for the majority of the incubation period. Symptoms include cough, high fever and shortness of breath. The shortness of breath is the symptom that stands out from the cold and the flu. People with weakened immune systems can develop severe respiratory problems or kidney failure that may lead to death. A lab test is needed to confirm COVID-19. Current treatment of COVID-19 include rest, fluids, acetaminophen and respiratory support if symptoms become severe.  As of March 23, an antiviral drug to treat COVID-19 is not confirmed, but there are 4 treatments in the testing phase.

Our highest priority is the safety of you and all of our patients. If you are concerned that you may have coronavirus, please call us before coming into a Children’s Medical Center location.

Palm Harbor (727) 787-6335

West Chase (813) 891-6501

Trinity (727) 376-8404

Lutz (813) 751-3131

The rate of development is different for everyone. Many children are ready to start trying solid foods when they have at least doubled their weight since birth — typically between 4-6 months of age. This is when a baby should have developed the enzymes needed for proper digestion.

A few ways to determine if your child is ready for solids include:

  • Holds their head up on their own
  • Ability to sit up without assistance
  • Shows an interest in your food
  • Opens their mouth when food comes near
  • Can move the food from a spoon to their throat with their tongue

What type of food should you start with for babies?

Single-grain baby cereals are a popular first food, but you can start with vegetables or fruit as well. The order does not matter. What’s important is that the food is soft enough to be broken down with a baby’s gums and not a choking hazard. This is why purees and cereals are a good starting point. Just be sure they are blended until smooth and runny enough to go down easy.

When can your baby try other solid foods?

It’s recommended to start with just one food at a time. Allow your child to have just one solid food for 3-5 days before adding a new one to their diet. This allows you to be able to monitor how they react to the food, if they can tolerate it, and ensure they are not allergic. If your child experiences diarrhea, rash, or vomiting, stop feeding that food to your child and consult with your doctor.

How to feed solids to a baby?

Starting with a teaspoon or less is recommended. If they’re not interested, you can try adding in a little bit of breast milk or formula. In the beginning, most of the food will likely end up on your baby’s face, in the chair or on the floor. Don’t get frustrated. Pay attention to your child’s cues — don’t force it. Talk to your baby, stay positive, make it fun and eventually day-by-day they will gradually get more in their mouth and even swallow.

We say this often, but family mealtime is so important for children and their development. This is where they learn from you, process what you’re doing, pick up on your eating habits and create their own.

If you have any questions about your child’s nutrition or concerns about what food they should be eating, call Children’s Medical Center. Our number one focus is your child’s health.

Kids are notorious for being picky eaters. Don’t worry, this is a natural part of a child’s development. How can you ensure your child is getting the nutrients they need when they refuse to eat? Here are 5 tips to help:

1. Set times

Creating set times for meals and snacks allows you to establish a routine for you and your children. It also helps to cut back on grazing throughout the day which could lead to skipping meals or not being hungry at mealtime. Mealtime is the ideal opportunity to model good eating habits to your kids. When they see you eat a variety of foods or try something new, your child pays attention and chances are they’ll want to try it too.

2. Let your kids help

Allowing your child to help prepare meals is a great way for them to be active in the selection process. It teaches them how to make something and works the brain muscles at the same time. It sparks creativity and interest. Your child is more likely to eat something they helped make and even try new foods in the process.

3. Switch it up

Let’s be honest, eating the same thing every day the exact same way gets boring. Switching up your menu, the foods you eat and how they’re presented allows your family to stay interested. Preparing foods in a variety of ways gives your child more options. They may not like raw crunchy carrots but love them roasted with a little seasoning. So, don't just try it one way every time — switch it up.

4. Prepare one meal

It can be easy to get caught in the trap of making something different for everyone at the table. This allows your child to control mealtime and only enables a picky eater. Make just one meal for the whole family, no special orders. Serve a variety of foods so your child can find something they like. As time goes on, they will eat more of what’s on their plate and expand their taste pallet.

5. Don't give up!

Just because your child says no to broccoli today doesn’t mean they won’t say yes next time, or the next time. Remain calm and stay the course.

As parents, it’s important to set a good example. If you never try new foods, most likely your child will not either. Make it a goal to find a few things from each of the five major food groups that your child does like. Each food group provides important nutrients, vitamins and minerals that are essential to your child’s health.

If you have concerns that your child is not getting enough food or refuses to eat from one of the five food groups, call us today to schedule a consultation. We are happy to help you create a plan that works for you and your child.

A child’s brain develops most rapidly during its first five years of life. The increased use of digital devices (phones, tablets and TVs) among our youth has sparked much debate among the medical world and parents alike. While this subject has been the topic of many pediatric studies, a recent study that uses a diffusion tensor MRI takes it to a new level by examining the brain’s white matter.

White matter is made up of fibers, typically distributed into bundles called tracts, which form connections between brain cells and the rest of the nervous system. The white matter of the brain is responsible for organizing communication between the various parts of the brain's gray matter. Gray matter contains the majority of the brain cells that tell the body what to do.

Results from the MRI show that higher screen use was associated with white matter tracts that were less developed throughout the brain. Researchers are looking at how a lack in the development of these white matter tracts may slow down the brain’s processing of information.

A few ways that too much screen time can effects a child include:

  • Inability to pay attention and think clearly
  • Increase in poor eating habits
  • Increase in behavioral problems
  • Delay in language and speech development
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Impaired decision-making skills
  • Decrease in parent-child engagement

These studies are still in their infancy and researchers will continue to monitor the effects that screen time has on our youth. Some activities that researchers have seen reverse the effects and help speed up the processing capabilities of the brain include reading books, juggling or hand-eye coordination games and learning and practicing a musical instrument.

Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind as you navigate through the first five years of your child’s life:

  • No screen time for kids under the age of 18 months
  • Facetime with family members is acceptable for babies and toddlers
  • Toddlers should have no more than one hour of screen time a day
  • Parents should engage and interact with toddlers as they watch videos or use interactive touch screens
  • Children 3-5 should watch content that’s educational and teaches them new skills

If you have questions about screen time and how digital devices and are affecting your child, please call Children’s Medical Center. Our doctors are happy to help guide you and evaluate your child should you have any concerns. Call us today to set schedule an appointment.

Palm Harbor (727) 787-6335

West Chase (813) 891-6501

Trinity (727) 376-8404

Lutz (813) 751-3131