After-School Snacks

Do your kids come home from school and immediately reach into the pantry or refrigerator looking for something to eat? It’s not surprising that most kids are hungry after school is over. Many schools have early lunch then an afternoon of classes and sometimes after-school activities before students get a chance to eat again.

When kids are hungry, they are more inclined to eat what’s handy. No wonder the snack food vending machine looks more appealing as the day goes by! While you may not always be able to control what your kids eat in the late afternoon, we can figure out a happy medium. Let’s make sure that your kids can enjoy a snack while still having room for dinner.

Make healthy snacks readily and easily available by packing them in their lunch boxes or backpacks, or by having them visible at home. Leave something healthy up front and center on the kitchen counter or in the refrigerator. For nights when dinner is hours away, a substantial snack like a half-sandwich could be a healthy option for snack time. Some other ideas for easy to grab snacks are fruit (apples, grapes, bananas), low-sugar granola bars, pretzels and hummus.

Most importantly, talk to your kids about which snacks they would like to have at snack time. Come up with a list of healthy options together, or better yet, take your kids along to the grocery store and spend some time teaching your kids about nutrition fact labels. Together, you can choose snacks that are low in sugar, fat, and salt. Involving your kids in the process makes it more likely for them to learn to make healthy food choices in the future.

5 Homework Tips for You and Your Kids

When parents take an active interest in their kids’ homework, they are more successful in school. You can be supportive by demonstrating organization skills or explaining a tricky problem. Sometimes, even encouraging them to take a break.

Here are some tips to help guide you and your kids:

  1. Know the teachers and what they’re looking for. Attend parent-teacher conferences and other school events. Get to know your kids’ teachers and ask about their homework policies.
  2. Help them plan. On nights when your kids have a heavy homework load, encourage them to break up the work into manageable chunks. If necessary, help them create a schedule for the night, and make sure that they take time for breaks every hour.
  3. Keep distractions to a minimum. No TV, loud music, or phone calls.
  4. Motivate them. Ask about their assignments and/or tests. Give encouragement and check their completed homework, but also make yourself available for questions. Praise their work and efforts by posting their aced test or project on the refrigerator.
  5. Set a good example. Kids are more likely to follow their parents’ examples than their advice. Read a book or balance your budget where your kids can see, so they can diligently do the same with their homework.

Finally, if there are continuing problems, talk about it with the teacher and your pediatrician. Some kids may need glasses, and others might need an evaluation for a learning problem or attention disorder.

Tips for Fun in the Sun and Water

This summer, make sure to keep your family safe by following some tips recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The best way to protect yourself and your children from harmful ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure is to cover up. It is best to limit exposure during hours of intense sun, which are between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 to protect against UVA and UVB rays on both sunny and cloudy days. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or after sweating or any activity in the water, such as swimming.

To prevent heat stress in exercising, children should choose light-colored and lightweight clothing. Dress in one layer of absorbent material to help with the evaporation of sweat. Ensure that your children take a break to drink every 20 minutes while active in the heat.

The best way to prevent drowning in children is to closely supervise your children while near water. Avoid inflatable swimming aids, such as “floaties,” as they can give a false sense of security. Instead, use approved life vests if your children need help in the waters.

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For more tips on sun and water safety, visit

Is Snacking Good?

Good news, snacking is good for you….as long as they are healthy snacks! During adolescence, the body needs more nutrients to grow which is why teenagers feel hungry a lot throughout the day. This is why snacks are a great way to satisfy that hunger and give the body the nutrients it needs to grow. Although it may be tempting for every teen to have a soda and candy bar after school, the temporary sugar boost it gives will slow them down in the long run. In order to keep energy levels going and to avoid weight gain, choose snacks that are full of fiber and protein such as peanut butter, fruits, or yogurts. However, you have to beware of claims that snack manufacturers make on their products. Just because something is “all natural” or “pure” does not mean that it is nutritious, such as fruit juices which can be filled with sugar which makes it extremely high in calories. Similarly, watch out for snacks with “low-fat” claims, because usually the fat is replaced with large amounts of sugar which is just as unhealthy. In order to judge how healthy a product is for you, look at the nutrition information on the food label.

Measles in the U.S.

By Elizabeth Chea, M.D.

As the number of cases of measles in the U.S. has reached over 100 people, this is the time to make sure that your child is protected. Most of these cases can be traced back to an exposure in Disneyland in December but now 17 states and Mexico have confirmed measles. 

Measles is a very contagious virus that can be passed into the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks and can be inhaled for up to 2 hours after leaving the infected individual.  Symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes, and rash.  If contracted, measles can cause pneumonia, encephalitis, and even death. 

Due to the rise in measles cases, the CDC is now recommending that infants 6 to 11 months old who are in an outbreak area or traveling internationally receive the MMR vaccine.  The CDC recommends that children receive their first MMR vaccine at 12 to 15 months and the second vaccine at 4 to 6 years old.  There are instances when the MMR vaccine should not be administered to include pregnant women, anyone immune compromised, or anyone with a history of an allergic reaction to the MMR vaccine.  Please discuss with your pediatrician any concerns with your child receiving the vaccine. The American Academy of Pediatrics just released a statement to encourage MMR vaccination.

Click on this link to read a letter from the AAP:

This is the time to make sure that your child is adequately vaccinated and protected from the disease. Please talk to your CMC pediatrician if you have any questions about measles or vaccines so we can keep your child protected and healthy.

Pediatricians Play a Role in Children’s Oral Health

In a revised statement, “Maintaining and Improving the Oral Health of Young Children,” which is featured in the December 2014 issue of Pediatrics, the AAP notes that pediatricians play an important role in improving oral health for young children. Younger children often see a pediatrician more frequently than a dentist, putting pediatricians in a unique position to provide oral health counseling. 

– See more at:’s-Oral-Health.aspx

AAP Recommends Fluoride to Prevent Tooth Decay

A recent report by the AAP suggests that fluoride is effective in cavity prevention in children. According to the report published on August 25, 2014, the AAP recommends fluoridated toothpaste in appropriate amounts for children, under the supervision of an adult. For example, a grain of rice sized dab of toothpaste should be used up to the age of three once teeth have erupted and after age three a pea-sized amount is recommended. The AAP also cautions against over-the-counter fluoridated products for children younger than 6 as there is a risk of swallowing high levels of fluoride.

To learn more about this news, read the American Academy of Pediatrics article here:


Reach Out and Read and Pediatric Literacy

Children’s Medical Center, PA, supports promoting pediatric literacy by participating in the Reach Out and Read program and giving children a book at their check ups from 6 months to 5 years old. On Tuesday, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced a new, national effort that promotes early literacy in pediatrics, something that CMC is very excited about.
Brian Gallagher, Acting Executive Director of Reach Out and Read, joined representatives from their longstanding partner Scholastic to meet with Secretary Clinton in Denver at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting. They launched a partnership that aimed at raising awareness among parents about the importance of early language development. Along with pediatric literacy, Clinton’s Too Small to Fail initiative is also involved in the partnership.
For the first time, the American Academy of Pediatrics has published a policy statement that promotes books and literacy guidance as an essential part of pediatrics, from the start of a child’s life. To bring this statement to life, Scholastic is donating 500,000 new children’s books to Reach Out and Read clinics across the country.
In the Carolinas, Reach Out and Read currently serves more than 275,000 families. Thanks to this generous gift, more families will be able to make reading aloud a daily activity.
Through CMC’s Reach Out and Read program, we will ensure that all children enter school prepared to succeed. 

To learn more about this partnership, click here.

Reach Out and Read was featured in The New York Times! Read the article about our new partnership here.